The first round of the state soccer playoffs proved unkind indeed to northeast Georgia programs.
After 30 teams qualified for the postseason, just eight made their way into this week's "Sweet 16" after some tough first round match-ups between programs imminently qualified for deep runs through the bracket.
Those sqauds that do remain know that they must be at their best if they want to keep progressing, as the second round offers plenty of tough showdowns.
(NOTE: To see a complete schedule, including kickoff times, for area teams in the second round, simply scroll down.)
Four area girls teams kick off on Tuesday, including two Class AAAAA battles. The second-ranked Buford (14-2-2) girls play host to a Locust Grove team that may not have a great record (10-7) but has tested itselt against a tough region, including in Region 4-AAAAA, which saw all four of its playoff teams win in the first round. The Lady Wildcats can score in bunches, averaging four goals per game -- but they also give up plenty of goals against better foes, allowing almost five goals per game in their seven losses.
Tenth-ranked Flowery Branch, meanwhile, also gets another home game after 4-AAAAA four seed Dutchtown upset top-seeded Wayne County in the first round. The Lady Bulldogs likewise bear an unimpressive record at 8-9, but they too can bag plenty of goals, averaging 4.2 per game. The Lady Falcons (11-6-1), however, runner-up to Buford in 8-AAAAA, boast a stout defense that shut out Riverwood in a 1-0 first round win and are allowing just over 1 goal per game.
When it comes to goals, there is no better in Hall County history, and certainly in northeast Georgia history, than Lakeview Academy's Carmen Wagner. The all-time scoring leader in Hall County will lead the Lady Lions into perhaps the most intriguing showdown of the second round when Lakeview travels to First Presbyterian Day School for Class A showdown in Macon. The Lady Vikings (19-0) have yielded one goal all season -- that's not a typo -- the other came in a preseason scrimmage and are ranked second in state. They were a Class A quarterfinalist in 2016, a semifinalist in 2015 and state runner-up in 2014 (they won Class A crowns in 2011 and '12). Yet the Lady Lions (14-3) have faced a demanding schedule and will head south knowing that Wagner gives them a shot to score in any game.
Also on Tuesday, Class AAAA No. 10 Jefferson travels to face Woodward Academy -- though it is a Lady War Eagles team with a losing record at 7-10-2 and one that has not beaten a team with a winning record so far this campaign. The Lady Dragons (11-3-1) are yielding just 0.6 goals per game and are looking to break through to the quarterfinals after reaching the second round a season ago.
Meanwhile, Wednesday's boys contests also feature plenty of intrigue, including one team looking to get back to a state title game for a second straight season (East Hall), a team looking to for a return to state tournament prominence (Gainesville's boys won state titles in 1998 and 2010), a team looking to fashion a Cinderella story (Chestatee) and a team looking to continue its budding prominence (Buford).
The Vikings cruised through the first round with a 5-1 win over Stone Mountain and now must travel to Crisp County in Class AAA. The Cougars (11-7-1) from Cordele snapped a five-game losing skid in the first round, defeating Southeast Bulloch 7-4. Crisp's defense has played well at times, yielding 1.7 goals per game, but has given 3.5 per game over the last six contests. That should be music to the ears of the Vikings (15-4) and standouts Carlos Castrejon and Sergio Turcios, who lead an attack scoring 3.8 goals per contest.
In Class AAAA, Chestatee's boys head to Augusta to face traditional power Richmond Academy after pulling off an overtime defeat at LaGrange in the first round. After losing by one goal apiece against No. 1 Blessed Trinity and No. 3 Marist during the regular season the War Eagles (9-7-1) will be in no way intimidated at the prospect of taking on No. 10 Richmond Academy. The Chestatee defense has been strong all season, allowing just 1.5 goals per game. The Musketeers (11-3-1), meanwhile, are scoring almost 4.9 goals per contests.
In Class AAAAA, Buford is hoping to make a run after being the only team from Region 8-AAAAA to make it out of the first round. The Wolves (10-6-2) will make the long trek south to Guyton after facing down a tough schedule so far. The Mustangs (13-2-1) have won 11 straight but only two of those victories came against a team with a winning record -- both against Statesboro High.
And, in Class AAAAAA, third-ranked Gainesville enters the second round on the heels of a solid, 2-0 win over Harrison. They will play host to a Glynn Academy team that has been stout defensively, allowing just 0.7 goals per game. The Terrors (15-3-1) could also find tough sledding offensively against a Red Elephants team (16-2) that has produced eight shutouts and is also giving up just 0.7 goals per contest.
Win on Wednesday and boys teams will play again on Saturday in the state quarterfinals. Girls teams that win on Tuesday will play again on Friday in the third round.
SOCCER PLAYOFFS SECOND ROUND MATCH-UPS
AREA TEAMS SCHEDULE
Locust Grove at Buford girls, 7 p.m.
Dutchtown at Flowery Branch girls, 5:55 p.m.
Jefferson girls at Woodward Academy, 6:30 p.m.
Lakeview Academy girls at First Presbyterian Day, 6:30 p.m.
Glynn Academy at Gainesville boys, 5:30 p.m.
Buford at South Effingham, 4:30 p.m.
Chestatee boys at Richmond Academy, 6 p.m.
East Hall boys at Crisp County, 5 p.m.