High School Soccer

Northgate ready for defense of state title

by Doug Gorman

alt

Ashley Keller, who earned All-Region honors, has been a mainstay on defense with teammate and fellow All-Region honoree Hayli Verbanic for Northgate’s girls, who travel to Heritage-Conyers this morning in a 9:30 a.m. kickoff. 


Coaches love to tell their players that defense wins championships.

If that’s the case, Northgate head girls soccer coach Bryan Hicks should like his team’s chances to repeat as the Class AAAAA champions.

Northgate opened the postseason with a pair of 4-0 victories over lineups from Houston County and Harris County, and now are just three wins away from potentially another state championship ring.

The Lady Vikings, however, will have to answer an early-morning wake-up call today when they travel to Heritage-Conyers for a 9:30 a.m. kickoff.

It’s a matchup of two of the state’s top-10 teams in AAAAA. Northgate, ranked No. 3, takes a 17-3-0 record into today’s Class AAAAA quarterfinal game while the No. 9 Lady Patriots are 15-4-0 overall.

Several athletes face a long Saturday. The early starting time is to accommodate proms at both schools tonight.

Hicks isn’t worried about the early kickoff, though.

“We are down with it, and they are down with it,” he said. “We really don’t care when we play.”

Goaltender Mattea Lewis has sparked the defending state champions to 10 shutouts.

“She has been back there since she was a freshman and she understands the game,” Hicks said.

Lewis also has plenty of support from the Lady Vikings defenders Hayli Verbanic and Ashley Keller, both of whom earned All-Area 4-AAAAA honors this season.

“We are able to switch around players back there,” Hicks said. They all have a great mindset.

Teams really don’t get past us very often, and if they do, Mattea is back there in goal.”

Heritage has won three of its last four games, getting a 6-1 victory against Tucker to open its playoff run and also beating North Paulding 3-2 in the second round earlier this week.

The Lady Patriots won the Region 8-AAAAAA crown with an 8-0 record, and like the Lady Vikings pride themselves on solid defense, shutting out opponents seven times this season.

“Just watching them on film, it looks like they gave a good goalie too,” Hicks said. “It should be a good test for us.”

Offensively, the Lady Vikings have showcased its depth while being led up front by Lily Barron, Reece Weaver and Taylor DeLoach.

On Wednesday, Weaver, Ashley Keller and Katie Salha were among players that scored for Northgate against Harris County.

The Lady Vikings received a boost late in the season when junior midfielder Katie Mitchell returned from a injury while rejoining Cara Rhoad as mainstays at the position.

This year’s playoffs are shaping up much like that from last year’s run to the Class AAAAA championship game.

Northgate and McIntosh are again on the same side of the GHSA bracket and will meet in next week’s semifinals should both teams win today. The Lady Chiefs (16-2), who finished as the No. 3 seed out of 4-AAAAA, travel to Northview (11-2-3), the No. 2 seed out of 7-AAAAA.

The Lady Vikings could host in such a scenario after finishing ahead of McIntosh in the 4-AAAAA standings. Last year, Northgate rallied to knock off McIntosh in overtime on its home field in Peachtree City.

“We are not going to look ahead,” Hicks said.

Area 4-AAAAA champion Starr Mill (17-3) also is on the road today against an Allatoona team at 16-2-2 that held off East Coweta 2-1 in a non-region match during the regular season. The Lady Indians play tonight in the Class AAAAAA quarterfinals.


GHSA Class AAAAA

Girls Soccer Quarterfinals

Today’s Game

No. 3 Northgate (17-3) at No. 9 Heritage-Conyers (15-4), 9:30 a.m.

How They Got Here

Northgate — beat Houston County 4-0 at home; beat Harris County 4-0 on road.

Heritage-Conyers — Beat Tucker 6-1 at home; beat North Paulding 3-2 at home (penalty kicks).




More Sports

Local Racing

Armisteads celebrate Father's Day weekend with wins

Joe Armistead, Jr. and son Joey celebrated Father's Day early last week as the father/ son duo won their respective divisions racing action ... Read More


Thursday Thunder

Johnson gets first win of year in Masters Division

Senioa driver Tina Johnson raced to the checkered flag at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Thursday Thunder's Masters/ Pro Division this week. John ... Read More


Newnan's Williams commits to Marshall

Newnan High 6-foot-9 center Jannson Williams still has one more season to play with the Cougars, but the All-County selection has taken the ... Read More


Basketball

Former Indian Madarious Gibbs showcasing skills in China

Former East Coweta standout Madarious Gibbs is using his basketball talents to see the world this summer. Although Gibbs finished his colleg ... Read More


Annual Mission Trip to Mexico

Baseball4Christ team stays undefeated

Baseball4Christ rolled to a victory Wednesday against the Chinkindzonot Giants and stayed unbeaten with their third victory against opponent ... Read More

Track & Field

Quintessentials head to AAU Regionals

It shaping up to be a successful summer for the Quintessentials youth track and field Team based in Coweta County. The AAU squad was started ... Read More