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Sunday May 28th, 2017 2:40PM

Soccer: State playoffs present tough tests from the start

By AccessWDUN Staff

At times this school year, the addition of a seventh classification and further fragmentation of regions and classifications looks to have watered down postseason competition, with higher seeds dominating and few upsets occuring.

Do not expect many easy rides in the state soccer playoffs, however -- certainly not in the first round, where several northeast Georgia programs face tough match-ups.

The opening salvo of the bracket, which will take place Tuesday-Friday, features four top 10 match-ups, while a numer of unranked area teams also face top 10 foes. In other words, any team that survives the first round may be set for something impressive indeed.

Some of the more eye-opening showdowns on tap include: 

  • Class AAAAA: No. 5 Johnson boys vs. No. 10 Grady
  • Class AAA: No. 5 Dawson County boys at No. 4 Pace Academy
  • Class AAA: No. 3 Dawson County girls vs. No. 6 Lovett
  • Class AAA: No. 5 Lumpkin County girls at No. 4 Pace Academy

Last year's Class AAAA runner-up and this year's Region 8-AAAAA champ Johnson has lost just once in state all season (at Class AAAAA No. 1 McIntosh, 1-0), but knows it is not set for a leisurely stroll into the second round against a Grady team that has also faced plenty of quality competition. The Knights know they can rely on a stingy defense that has allowed just nine goals all season (less than a goal per match), while Grady has managed just three goals in their five losses and two draws combined.

Perhaps the most mouth-watering set of showdowns comes in Class AAA, where Region 7-AAA and 5-AAA will face off. The two regions are chock full of top 10 talent and state championship hopefuls. And northeast Georgia's representatives in 7-AAA are hoping to make a statement against their Atlanta-based counterparts in 5-AAA. Both Dawson County teams face private school powers Pace Academy boys and Lovett girls. Meanwhile, the Lumpkin County girls travel to Pace Academy.

And that's just scratching the surface of what the first round holds in store.

Even the contests not featuring true top 10 showdowns contain plenty of intrigue. 

The third-ranked Gainesville boys enter on a hot streak, having won eight straight and outscoring foes 38-4 over that period, but they too face a tough foe in the first round against Region 6-AAAAAA No. 4 Harrison, which lost to the No. 2 and 3 seeds from its region by just one goal in each match (though 6-AAAAAA champ and No. 1 Dalton dominated the Hoyas 7-1).

So while there may have been a few walkovers in other sports' postseasons in 2016-17, it does not look like there will be any such outcomes this week in the soccer playoffs.

SOCCER STATE PLAYOFF MATCH-UPS
Area teams first round schedule April 25-28
(Kickoff times provided where made available)

BOYS
Class AAAAAA
Harrison (Region 6, No. 4) at Gainesville (Region 8, No. 1), 7:30 p.m. Friday

Class AAAAA
Grady (Region 6, No. 4) at Johnson (Region 8, No. 1), 7 p.m. Friday
North Springs (Region 6, No. 3) at Buford (Region 8, No. 2), 7:30 p.m. Friday
Flowery Branch (Region 8, No. 4) at Riverwood (Region 6, No. 1), 7 p.m. Friday

Class AAAA
Chestatee (Region 7, No. 3) at LaGrange (Region 5, No. 2), 6 p.m. Wednesday
White County (Region 7, No. 4) at Cartersville (Region 7, No. 1), 6 p.m. Wednesday
Jefferson (Region 8, No. 4) at Southeast Whitfield (Region 6, No. 1), 6:30 p.m. Wednesday

Class AAA
Stone Mountain (Region 5, No. 3) at East Hall (Region 7, No. 2), 6:30 p.m. Wednesday
Dawson County (Region 7, No. 3) at Pace Academy (Region 5, No. 2), 6 p.m. Wednesday
Fannin County (Region 4, No. 1) at Westminster (Region 5, No. 1), Wednesday
Sonoraville (Region 6, No. 3) at Jackson County (Region 8, No. 2), 6 p.m. Wednesday
East Jackson (Region 6, No. 3) at Calhoun (Region 6, No. 2), 7 p.m. Wednesday

Class AA
Rabun County (Region 8, No. 4) at South Atlanta (Region 6, No. 1), 5:30 p.m. Wednesday

Class A
Riverside Military (Area 8, No. 3) at Holy Innocents (Area 6, No. 2), 5 p.m. Wednesday
Lakeview (Region 8, No. ) at Paideia (Area 6, No. 1), 5 p.m. Wednesday


GIRLS
Class AAAAAA
Habersham Central (Region 8, No. 4) at Harrison (Region 6, No. 1), Thursday

Class AAAAA
North Springs (Region 6, No. 1) at Buford (Region 8, No. 1), 6 p.m. Thursday
Riverwood (Region 6, No. 3) at Flowery Branch (Region 8, No. 2), 5:30 p.m. Thursday
Johnson (Region 8, No. 4) at Decatur (Region 6, No. 1), 6 p.m. Thursday

Class AAAA
Chestatee (Region 7, No. 3) at Chapel Hill (Region 5, No. 2), 6 p.m. Tuesday
White County (Region 7, No. 4) at LaGrange (Region 5, No. 1), 5:30 p.m. Tuesday
Jefferson (Region 8, No. 2) at Southeast Whitfield (Region 6, No. 3), 6:30 p.m. Tuesday

Class AAA
Lovett (Region 5, No. 3) at Dawson County (Region 7, No. 2), 7 p.m. Tuesday
Lumpkin County (Region 7, No. 3) at Pace Academy (Region 5, No. 2), 5:30 p.m. Tuesday
North Hall (Region 7, No. 4) at Westminster (Region 5, No. 1), 5:30 p.m. Tuesday
Adairsville (Region 6, No. 4) at Jackson County (Region 8, No. 1), 6 p.m. Tuesday
East Jackson (Region 8, No. 4) at Calhoun (Region 6, No. 1), 5 p.m. Wednesday

Class A
Mt. Vernon Presbyterian (Area 6, No. 3) at Lakeview (Area 8, No. 2), 6 p.m. Tuesday
Towns County (Area 8, No. 4) at Holy Innocents (Area 6, No. 1), 5 p.m. Tuesday

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