LADY VIKINGS WIN 4-1
by CHRIS GOLTERMANN
CARROLLTON — If Coweta County wasn’t on the state’s “soccer map” before Saturday, it sure is now - thanks to this year’s Northgate Lady Vikings.
Capping off a historic run to this year’s GHSA Class AAAAA title, Northgate followed up an upset win over rival McIntosh with an even bigger one during Saturday’s 4-1 victory over top-ranked Whitewater at West Georgia’s University Stadium.
Despite finishing behind the pair as the third place finisher out of Region 4-AAAAA, the Lady Vikings wound up No. 1 in soccer for the first time in school history, capping off a year where all six of the county’s teams reached respective GHSA tournaments, two of which advanced to the semifinal round or beyond.
“Absolutely,” answered sophomore Katie Mitchell if the win was as much one for Coweta County soccer in general. “We’re all one big family.”
The victory came on an emotional Saturday that began solemnly with the news that Heritage School student athlete Tyler Henson had been killed in a car accident. According to a report, the junior was on his way to pick up his girlfriend, a Northgate student.
The Lady Vikings did their best to lift the spirits of the county’s high school sports community. It was another accolade for the Northgate High trophy case in a recent run that has included five consecutive cheerleading championships from 2006-2011 and two GHSA softball championships in 2007 and 2011.
Senior wrestler Tyler Askey also closed out his varsity career with a perfect record and a fourth individual state title for the Viking program.
“This is number 10 (state championships) for me,” said outgoing athletic director Bill Harrison, who will becomes the school principal next year.
After losing to the Lady Wildcats in the 2010 Class AAAA semifinals in Hicks’ first season as head coach, seniors Micayla Crenshaw and Hannah Murray helped Northgate finally get over two longtime Fayette County nemesis to close their careers.
(To view photos from this game, visit http://photos.times-herald.com/mycapture/ and click on Sports for the Photo Gallery.)
Unlike Tuesday’s 2-1 overtime win at McIntosh, however, Northgate never trailed in the championship game, responding from a Whitewater goal two minutes into the second half by scoring three more unanswered. Crenshaw, who gave the Lady Wildcats a 1-0 lead heading into halftime, added the go-ahead goal before Murray contributed insurance by heading in a free kick from freshman Cara Rhoad.
Another ninth grader, Lily Barron, polished off the scoring with just under 20 minutes to play. More importantly, losing just Crenshaw, Murray and Amanda Lee to graduation this week, Northgate’s program has a chance to stay on top for a long time to come.
“To be just a sophomore and to win a state championship,” said defender Hayli Verbanic, “it’s an unbelievable feeling.”