High School Soccer
McIntosh sweeps Northgate in Region 4-AAAAA matches
by Doug Gorman
It took nearly 80 minutes to decide, but the McIntosh Lady Chiefs spoiled defending state champion Northgate’s hopes for a perfect season with a 1-0 victory over the Lady Vikings at Henry Seldon Field Monday night in a showdown of the top-two state-ranked girls soccer teams in Class AAAAA.
With it went a possible chance for Northgate to claim a possible No. 1 seed as both teams head back to the Class AAAAA playoffs.
Last year, however, followed much the same pattern with McIntosh’s girls finishing first in Region 4-AAAAA only to lose at home in the semifinals to a Northgate lineup that won all of its postseason games on the road en route to the program’s first ever state title.
On Monday, No. 2-ranked McIntosh scored the game winner in the 78th minute when Taylor Dowse connected on a direct kick near the box with 1:18 left just when it seemed like the contest was heading to overtime.
“We had our chances,” said Northgate head coach Bryan Hicks. “We just didn’t take advantage of some our opportunities.”
Hicks hopes this season follows the same script.
“We want to meet them again,” he said. “That is our goal.”
It was part of a doubleheader sweep by the visitors from Peachtree City as the top-ranked McIntosh boys rolled to a 7-0 victory,
With the outcome of Monday’s girls game, Region 4-AAAAA turns a little upside down when it comes to seeding for the upcoming playoffs, especially for Northgate who takes on Starr’s Mill at home Friday.
Starr’s Mill (11-1, 5-0) is also unbeaten in region play while carrying a No. 3 state-ranking into the week.
A win over Starr’s Mill will clinch at least one home playoff game as long as Northgate takes care of business against Mundy’s Mill and Mt. Zion-Jonesboro as expected.
“We won’t have any problems getting ready to play,” Hicks said. “We know what is at stake. Our girls like games with Starr’s Mill and McIntosh.”
McIntosh forced six corner-kick opportunities, three of which resulted in the Lady Chiefs putting headers over the net.
The Lady Vikings kept themselves in the game with stellar defense.
Goaltender Mattea Lewis made several saves against Lady Chiefs and Northgate also benefitted from sliding tackles from Hayli Verbanic and Ashton Murray on several McIntosh rushes toward the net.
“You can’t ask for a better performance from the defense,” he said.
A Northgate corner kick also turned into one of the Lady Vikings’ best scoring chances in the second half, but it also was turned away by McIntosh after Northgate put the ball near the net before the Lady Chiefs came up with some stellar defense of their own.
Both teams had their first-half best scoring opportunities of in the last two minutes.
Dowse almost scored off a direct kick in the first half, but she fired the ball over the net.
Then with 25 seconds remaining in the the first half, Northgate’s Reece Weaver blasted the ball toward the McIntosh goal, forcing Hannah Graham to make her most challenging save of the first half.
After her save trickled over the end line, the Lady Vikings set up for the only corner kick of the first half.
McIntosh outshot Northgate 6-4 in the first half with both teams having limited scoring chances in the first 40 minutes.
In the opening seconds of the game, the Lady Vikings’ Weaver fed the ball to Barron for their first of several scoring chances, but good defense by the Lady Chiefs prevented Northgate from getting another shot of for several more minutes.
“In soccer you have to take advantage of some of your set plays, and we really didn’t to that,” Hicks said.
MCINTOSH 7, NORTHGATE 0 (boys): Defending champion McIntosh showed why the program is still ranked No. 1 in Class AAAAA, building a 3-0 lead in the first half.
With the win, McIntosh (12-0, 6-0 Region 4-AAAAA) stays unbeaten, while Northgate dropped to 5-3-1 overall and 3-3 in league play,
Northgate goaltender Cooper Morrison was playing with a heavy heart after the death of his grandfather this week, but with his teammates wearing black armbands in his grandfather’s honor, Morrison made several key saves, including stopping a penalty kick in the first half.
He also reached high in the air for another save in the first half.
Those saves kept Northgate in the game for a time, but Matthew and Stuart Dognazzi picked up two of the team’s first-half goals, and Adam Sheikali added a score in the first half for the Chiefs.
The Chiefs made it 4-0 in minutes into the second half when Northgate kicked it in its own goal while trying to clear the ball out of the box. McIntosh added three more goals midway through the second half to close out the scoring.
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for Northgate who gets back into action Friday against Starr’s Mill.
Northgate’s didn’t have many scoring chances throughout the game with McIntosh keeping the ball down at the Vikings.
Kevin Cheng gave the Vikings their best scoring chance of the night when he fired the ball into the center of the net with under 10 seconds to go in the game forcing the McIntosh goalkeeper to make his only save of the game.
“McIntosh is like a well-oiled machine,” Hicks said. “I don’t know when they last lost a game.”