Here are some of the teams to watch in the girls soccer state tournaments, which begin this week:
Top-ranked Milton (17-1) is battle-tested for a tournament run. The Eagles were 6-0 during the regular season against teams ranked in the Class AAAAA top 10, and they played Class AA No. 1 Blessed Trinity (a 1-0 victory) and Class AAA No. 1 St. Pius (a 3-2 loss). Third-ranked Harrison, led by Hannah Deltac and goalkeeper Allison Leone, is the defending state champion and will have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Top-ranked Whitewater (14-0-1) and No. 2 McIntosh (15-2-1) met in the final last season and could be headed toward a rematch. McIntosh won last year’s championship, but Whitewater has won both meetings between the teams this season. McIntosh appears to have the more difficult road to the final, with a potential second-round matchup against No. 4 Pope and a possible meeting with No. 3 Marist in the semifinals.
Three-time defending state champion No. 1 St. Pius (15-1-1) is ranked No. 1 and clearly the team to beat. The Golden Lions are likely to be challenge by a familiar opponent in second-ranked Woodward Academy, which lost to St. Pius in last year’s final. St. Pius beat Woodward 3-2 in a penalty kick shootout on April 20 for the Region 5-AAA title. Third-ranked Allatoona has recorded eight consecutive shutouts and 14 overall.
The four playoff teams from Region 6-AA reached the semifinals last season, and a repeat of that performance is a real possibility this year as defending champion Blessed Trinity, 2011 runner-up Greater Atlanta Christian, Westminster and Buford are all ranked in the top six. Third-ranked Dawson County enters the tournament on an eight-game winning streak, and No. 4 Dublin is 15-1-2 and reached the quarterfinals last season.
First Presbyterian (17-1), the top-ranked team and defending state champion, is undefeated against Georgia teams and has allowed just six goals this season. No. 2 Fellowship Christian, which lost to First Presbyterian in the semifinals last year, has three Division I signees in Emily Sonnett (Virginia), Emma Sonnett (Georgia) and Elizabeth Johnson (Georgia). Unranked Treutlen and Towns County are the only public schools in the 20-team field.