THOMASTON — History is just another word for the Chestatee boys soccer team -- and instead of being focused on all the firsts and magic the War Eagles have created this postseason, they are more intently focused on another word: championship.
Thanks to a 2-0 defeat of Upson-Lee in Tuesday's Class 4A state semifinal, Chestatee will now play for its first ever state crown.
The War Eagles (19-2) largely shut down the Knights (19-2) in their first ever state semifinal -- just days after winning their first ever state quarterfinal -- and got goals from Austin Manzo and Juan Carlos Vanegas to handle the offensive load.
Chestatee will take on Northwest Whitfield for the Class 4A championship at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Mercer's Five Star Stadium in Macon. And after blazing a new trail to this point, the second-ranked War Eagles believe they can take one more step.
"We're just going to keep doing what we're doing and focus on the next game," Chestatee coach Mike Herrin said. "We just keep talking about one more game, one more game, one more game."
The War Eagles will look to continue the same focus they've displayed each of the last two playoff contests when they trek to Macon.
"They were focused tonight," Herrin said. "We talked about staying that way on the way down, and they were relaxed and loose."
Defensively, Chestatee remained locked in as goalkeeper Steven Martinez maintained the shutout -- including a clutch one-on-one save with the visitors leading just 1-0.
"They had one breakaway where our defenders got crossed up with each other, and Steven came up huge to deny their guy," Herrin said. "Our defenders did a great job the rest of the night and really covered well for each other."
Manzo ensured the War Eagles took the lead, pouncing on a rebound to score in the first half. Vanegas then provided some insurance on an inch-perfect 40-yard free kick with 23 minutes remaining.
"I’m excited for the boys," Herrin said. "This is their moment.
"Hopefully we'll have the same atmosphere down in Macon. We had a great turnout of students tonight, our hundred or so kids were just as loud as the other team's 500."