High School Girls Lacrosse
Ohliger, McCloud share top honors on All-County team
by Chris Goltermann
The 2014 high school girls lacrosse season in Coweta County was one that saw some streaks continue as well as the emergence of a fierce intracounty rivalry.
Either way, the year produced its share of excitement between the county’s three high school programs.
Newnan again marched on to the Class AAAAAA state playoffs while finishing 9-9 overall and 5-2 in Area 1-AAAAAA while finishing third behind eventual state quarterfinalist Harrison and Kennesaw Mountain.
The Lady Cougars’ fifth consecutive trip to the postseason was fueled by a balanced lineup that was led by senior Savannah Ohliger, who earned Newnan Times-Herald Offensive Player of the Year honors on our 2014 All-County Girls Lacrosse Team.
From her attack position, the four-year letterwinner and team captain finished the season with 54 goals, 18 assists and 74 points — all tops among local players.
Ohliger, who moved into a starting role last year, signed with Division II Newberry College.
She was equally accurate with a .542 shooting percentage and showcased her all-around skills by scooping up 57 ground balls — also most among All-County nominees — and adding six forced turnovers and six ground controls.
While Ohliger was among seven Lady Cougars honored on this year’s team, first-time Coweta Cup champions Northgate equally dominated with seven standouts. East Coweta, which finished with a 6-8-1 record, added two All-County selections.
The Lady Vikings, who again faced an uphill climb among 12 schools in Area 1-AAAAA/A that were fighting for four state-playoff berths, managed to finish 7-7-1 overall while tying a school record for most wins in a season.
The highlight, of course, was a hard-fought 9-8 win over host Newnan to close the season. It was one that wrestled the Coweta Cup trophy from of the Lady Cougars’ fingers for the first time since its inception.
Northgate’s first cup title was equally rewarding after coming up just shy in a one-goal loss the previous year on its home field.
It took a team effort to rally back for the final two goals of the game as the Lady Vikings held Newnan to three goals over the final 25 minutes.
Helping lead the final defensive surge was four-year letterman and senior captain Mackenzie McCloud, who earned Newnan Times-Herald Defensive Player of the Year honors.
The Lady Viking defender’s 51 ground balls ranked second in the county, but her 13 interceptions were tops for a team that netted seven selections to this year’s All-County Team.
They also included sophomore standout Abby Coe, whose 40th goal of the year was also the eventual game-winner against Newnan. The Lady Viking added 11 assists in 2014 while playing both attack and midfield. She also scooped up 18 ground balls, forced 11 turnovers and had a whopping 30 draw controls while making an impression on faceoffs.
Northgate’s honorees also included seniors Chaya Murrell and Ashley Passantino, who were as much leaders on defense and on attack. Murrell, who signed with Point University, finished the season with 37 ground balls and nine interceptions to go with two goals on offense.
Up top, Passantino had seven goals and eight assists including a goal in the Coweta Cup finale. She also scooped up 22 ground balls and had five interceptions.
Northgate, however, should benefit from a large group of returning players heading into 2015 led by three juniors that earned All-County honors after scoring at least 20 goals this spring.
Maria Smith finished second on the team with 28 goals and added eight assists while playing both on attack and at midfield. She finished with 25 ground-ball scoops and added five interceptions defensively.
Up top, Savannah Steffens had 23 goals for the Lady Vikings, the last of which on a game-tying shot against Newnan with two minutes to play. On attack, she also added six assists while adding 18 ground balls and two interceptions.
Another junior, Brenda Robertson, showcased her versatility in the midfield while among team leaders in most categories. She posted 22 goals and 10 assists while also in double-digits defensively among ground-ball scoops (27) and draw controls (10). Robertson also had three interceptions this season.
Newnan’s lineup featured equal depth throughout the lineup with Courteney Darrow and Sable Hawkins joining Ohliger among Lady Cougar seniors on this year’s All-County team.
Darrow connected on nearly half of her shots while finishing with 19 goals and three assists as a first-year starter. The Point University signee also added 35 ground balls, forced 13 turnovers and added six draw controls.
Hawkins will join Darrow at Point while continuing to excel in her third season. The team captain played both on attack and in the midfield as a senior while finishing with 32 goals and five assists. She also was among team defensive leaders with 50 ground balls, 12 forced turnovers, four interceptions and 17 draw controls.
The duo join are joined by four Lady Cougars underclassmen including sophomore goalie Hope Overton. In her first year in net, Overton made 109 saves while allowing an average of 9.25 goals per game. She also had 16 ground-ball scoops and forced four turnovers
The Newnan goalie should equally benefit from the return of the team’s co-defensive players of the year Sydney Ward and Megan Diebboll.
A sophomore, Ward finished with 14 forced turnovers and eight interceptions while scooping up 14 ground balls and having “a knack for being in the right place at the right time,” according to Newnan head coach Robert Skinner.
Diebboll, meanwhile, was equally tenacious. The junior and second-year starter at the defensive midfield position scooped up 51 ground balls, forced 14 turnovers, had 17 draw controls and added four interceptions.
“She is the hardest working player on the field,” said Skinner of Diebboll, who also had six goals and an assist on offense.
Sophomore defender Emma Dougherty also made a major impression in her first year as a starter while also filling in for Overton in goal and posting a 3-1 record. Dougherty finished with 26 ground balls and four interceptions while forcing 16 turnovers.
East Coweta, which won three straight games in April, was led by junior Sarah Reeves’ 49 goals on attack while scoring in 12 of the team’s 15 games. Reeves was joined by junior midfielder Julia Ghyzel on among selections from the Lady Indians.
2014 Newnan Times-Herald All-County Girls Lacrosse Team
Offensive Player of the Year - Savannah Ohliger, Attack, Newnan, Sr.
54 goals, 18 assists, .542 shooting percentage, 57 ground balls, 6 forced turnovers, 6 draw controls
Defensive Player of the Year - Mackenzie McCloud, Defense, Northgate, Sr.
51 ground balls, 13 interceptions, 2 goals
Pos. Player School Year
A/M Abby Coe Northgate So.
C/M Courteney Darrow Newnan Sr.
DM Megan Diebboll Newnan Jr.
D Emma Dougherty Newnan So.
M Julia Ghyzel East Coweta Jr.
A/M Sable Hawkins Newnan Sr.
D Chaya Murrell Northgate Sr.
G Hope Overton Newnan So.
A Ashley Passantino Northgate Sr.
M Brenda Robertson Northgate Jr.
A/M Maria Smith Northgate Jr.
A Savannah Steffens Northgate Jr.
A Sarah Reeves East Coweta Jr.
D Sidney Ward Newnan So.
Honorable Mention: East Coweta — Yehong Zhu, Janie Neary, Daylee Wood, Abby Zelczak, Kadryn Earl ; Northgate — Reagan Cluff, Abby Weatherford, McKenzie Peace; Newnan — Dakota Overton, Anne Jarrett, Kerrie Head, Jac Witt.