The Gainesville boys left it late and the Buford girls left no doubt, as both teams danced into their respective classifications' state championship games on Tuesday.
The Red Elephants scored twice in overtime to halt top-ranked Dalton 3-1 at City Park and reach the program's first championship game since 2012. Pedro Santos gave Gainesville a 1-0 first half advantage before the Catamounts pegged the Red Elephants back just with 16:30 left to play in regulation. Undaunted, Gainesville used two overtime strikes from Cristian Rodriguez to clinch a spot in Saturday's Class AAAAAA boys finale against Chattahoochee.
Meanwhile, the Buford girls dominated from the start in a 5-0 Class AAAAA semifinal defeat of Whitewater. The visitors came in ranked No. 1 but had no chance against the Lady Wolves, who scored just minutes after the opening kickoff in pursuit of their first ever state title. Buford moves on to Friday's title showdown against McIntosh (who finished behind Whitewater in the Region 3-AAAAA season).
It was not all sweetness on Tuesday for area teams, however, and McIntosh halted Flowery Branch's season with a 5-2 win over the Lady Falcons in the other Class AAAAA girls semifinal. The Branch scored two late goals but could not continue their historic campaign.
Meanwhile, in Class AAA, the East Hall boys suffered a frustrating 1-0 loss to Pace Academy in Rabbittown. The Vikings, who had scored 17 goals in their previous three playoff wins combined, could not find the net thanks to a combination of bad luck and stout Pace defending, as their bid for a second straight state title game ended.
And, in Class AAAA, the Jefferson girls' deepest ever playoff run came to an end in a 6-1 loss at top-ranked Marist.
The state championships will take place in Macon for northeast Georgia's remaining representatives, beginning with Friday's Class AAAAA title contest for Buford. The Lady Wolves are scheduled to kick off at 5 p.m. Meanwhile, the Gainesville boys, who last won a state crown in 2010, will compete for the Class AAAAAA title at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Both games will take place at Mercer University's Five Star Stadium.
STATE SOCCER SEMIFINALS
Area Teams Results
Gainesville boys 3, Dalton 1 OT
Buford girls 5, Whitewater 0
McIntosh 5, Flowery Branch girls 2
Marist 6, Jefferson girls 1
Pace Academy 1, East Hall boys 0
STATE CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE
At Mercer University, Macon
5 p.m. -- Buford girls vs. McIntosh
7:30 p.m. -- Gainesville boys vs. Chattahoochee