All-County Girls Soccer
East Coweta senior teammates share top honors
by Doug Gorman
Two is usually better than one. And during the past four years, Serenity Waters and Nikki Brandley roamed the soccer field at East Coweta, mostly side-by-side, in a manner that typically meant double trouble for opposing defenses.
It’s no surprise that their final numbers were as steady as the Lady Indians’ win totals over respective careers — winning 15, 13, 15 and finally 16 games in 2014 while helping lead the program to its first trip to the state semifinals.
Two of East Coweta’s five losses this spring came against both Class AAAAAA finalists, the other in a similar one-goal loss to Harrison that ended with teams each attempting 10 penalty kicks.
Statistically, Waters and Brandley were evenly matched, putting up solid offensive numbers this past season and leading the team to the Class AAAAAA Final Four before falling 4-3 in a back-and-forth battle with a then-undefeated Grayson team.
Stopping East Coweta typically meant trying to corral both forwards, a task that exhausted opponents, a majority of which failed in their attempts when looking at the duo’s career numbers. At 15-6, the Lady Indians’ went unbeaten both in Region 3-AAAAAA against their two county rivals in another intensely contested Coweta Cup tournament before winning three state playoff games.
The lightning-fast Waters — who signed with UNC-Wilmington – closed her career with 86 goals including a season-best 30 in 2004 while adding 60 career assists, 16 as a senior.
Brandley’s numbers dipped only slightly due to double-duty as a top-defender in key situations. Against Northgate in an intense Coweta Cup match as well as a playoff opener against Colquitt County, she helped solidify the back line in victories.
For her career, Brandley — who is headed to Georgia Southern on a scholarship — had 82 goals and 40 assists while finishing her senior year with respective totals of 19 and 14.
East Coweta wasn’t alone, however, in its success this year in another impressive season for county lineups.
Northgate returned to its second straight Class AAAAA Final Four while finishing 18-4 after falling to region rival and eventual state champion McIntosh. It was the fifth consecutive season a team from the Lady Vikings’ region captured a GHSA crown. All five featured a matchup of region opponents.
The Lady Vikings still managed their share of heroics this spring, knocking off Starr’s Mill to help earn the No. 2 seed in the state playoffs and two postseason games at home. In between, Northgate earned a 2-1 victory over Heritage-Conyers on penalty kicks.
Because of their successes, both state semifinalist lineups are well represented on this year’s Times-Herald All-County team.
Northgate led All-County selections with five players including standout senior goalie Mattea Lewis, who helped hold opponents to less than a goal-per-game average. The Lady Vikings defense, which included fellow All-County honorees Ashley Keller and Hayli Verbanic, helped record 10 shutouts in addition to 10 games where their opponent was held to a single goal.
McIntosh’s four goals in the state semifinals were the most allowed by Northgate all season.
On the other end of the field, Northgate continued to establish what should be a top-tandem up front for the near future with freshman Reece Weaver and sophomore Lily Barron.
Barron’s top games included a four-goal effort against Whitewater while Weaver scored twice in Northgate’s opening home playoff win over Houston County.
One of the biggest highlights for the two came when they helped the Lady Vikings to a 2-1 victory over Starr’s Mill to secure second place in Region 4-AAAAA and give Northgate home field advantage to open the playoffs when Barron fed the ball to Weaver for the second goal of the game.
Defense also played key roles at both East Coweta and Newnan. The Lady Cougars returned to the state playoffs after finishing with a 9-8-1 record as the No. 3 seed out of Region 3-AAAAAA.
Newnan’s eight losses came against teams that finished with a combined record of 125-35-3.
Top defender Rebecca Turner and sophomore midfielder Teghan Anguilm, who was among, Newnan’s top goal scorers with 13 in 2014, represent the Lady Cougars.
East Coweta had two members of its starting back-line honored as All-County selections in senior Katie Sutherland and junior Tara Federico. Sutherland was the Lady Indians sweeper while also adding three goals and three assists in her third All-County honor.
Federico held down one of the outside fullback positions while posting two goals and two assists.
Midfielders Anna Lauzon and Lynnsey Danford were also among East Coweta’s All-County selections following its run to the state semifinals.
Lauzon, who turned down some offers to play college soccer in order concentrate on being a regular student at Georgia State, started all four four years while closing out her career with 14 goals and 16 assists as senior.
As a junior, Danford added nine goals and 12 assists while also coming up with timely tallies as a hard-working midfielder with a knack for the net. Her biggest goal came when she drilled the ball into the net with 27 seconds left to against Centennial to rally the Lady Indians to the victory and send them into the Class AAAAAA Final Four.
The Heritage School’s program equally returned to the GISA state playoffs despite having both a string of region championships and a streak of at least one postseason victory snapped.
Earning All-County honors were senior midfielder Ansley Dieckmann and sophomore Calista Eckert.
In her fifth year as a key contributor to the program, Dieckmann picked up her fifth All-Region honor while also finishing her career with three GISA All-State selections following a senior campaign that included six goals and 10 assists.
Eckert was the Lady Hawks’ most prolific scorer with 25 goals and 14 assists while earning All-Region and All-State honors during the first three years of her varsity career.
2014 All-County Girls Soccer Team
Co-Players of the Year
Serenity Waters, East Coweta, Forward, Sr.
30 goals, 16 assists
Nikki Brandley, East Coweta, Forward/Defense, Sr.
19 goals, 14 assists
Pos. Player School Year
Midfield Tehgan Anguilm Newnan So.
Forward Lily Barron Northgate So.
Midfield Lynnsey Danford East Coweta Jr.
Midfield Ansley Dieckmann Heritage School Sr.
Forward Calista Eckert Heritage School So.
Defense Tara Federico East Coweta Jr.
Defense Ashley Keller Northgate Sr.
Midfield Anna Lauzon East Coweta Sr.
Goalie Mattea Lewis Northgate Sr.
Defense Katie Sutherland East Coweta Sr.
Defense Rebecca Turner Newnan Sr.
Defense Hayli Verbanic Northgate Jr.
Forward Reece Weaver Northgate Fr.
Honorable Mentions: Trinity Christian — Cora Gwynn, Sr.; Heritage School — Jaina Eckert, 8th grade, G Lillie Smith, Jr.; F Sara Brillanti, So.; East Coweta — M Morgan Haase, So.; D Abby Pepper, Jr; M/D S.K. Palmer, Jr.; M Ashton Rohrschneider, So.; Northgate — M Cara Rhoad, So.; M Katie Mitchell, Jr.; M/D Taylor Hendrix, Sr.; D Katie Salha, Sr.; F/M Taylor Deloach; Newnan — F Erin Bright, Sr.; D Lauren Hovey, Sr.; M Caroline Thomas, So.