fair.png
Wednesday July 6th, 2022 8:54PM

Soccer playoffs: Veteran Johnson boys, newcomers Jefferson, Commerce girls shooting for titles

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter

For the Johnson boys soccer team, playing in May -- championship week -- has become not just something to look forward to, but expected. When the Knights take the field on Thursday at McEachern Stadium, it will be their second straight Class 5A state championship game appearance.

For the Jefferson and Commerce girls, however, it’s like discovering a whole new world.

Both the Lady Dragons and Lady Tigers will be making their first-ever trips to the championship round this week. Commerce will play Social Circle in the Class A Public title match on Tuesday while Jefferson will take on Marist in the Class 4A finals on Thursday, both in Macon at Mercer Stadium.

It has been a quick ascent for the Commerce girls, who are playing in just their fourth season after the program was created in 2018 and did not play their first campaign until 2019.

The Jefferson girls played their first season in 2008. They made the 2017 and 2019 semifinals but finally cracked through into the finals last week with a stunning 5-0 win over Northwest Whitfield. 

Jefferson coach Molly McCarty said the semifinal win over Northwest was long overdue.

“This has been years in the making and is huge for our program,” McCarty said. “One of our player's family who is currently on this year's team helped start Jefferson soccer in 2008. The win against Northwest Whitfield was dedicated to all of our past, present and future (players).”

Northwest had not allowed a single goal in the 2022 playoffs until running into the Lady Dragons offensive buzzsaw. The Lady Dragons (14-3-1) will face a similar scenario against Marist (15-5) who also has not allowed a single goal in the playoffs, including a 3-0 win over defending Class 4A champion North Oconee in the semifinals. The Lady Dragons have given up just one goal [a 2-1 win over Columbus] in their first four playoff matches.

“The keys to being successful against Marist will just be staying together as a team for 80 minutes,” McCarty said. “We must limit our mistakes. We have nothing to lose going into this game and everything to gain. We have played as the underdog now (in every playoff game) and that will be no different in the finals.”

The Johnson boys, however, are veterans of the trek to either Macon or McEachern. It is their fifth finals appearance since 2014. However, they are just 1-3 in the previous four trips to the title match. They won the 2018 Class 5A title with a 1-0 win over McIntosh. They lost 2-1 to McIntosh in last year’s championship match.

Johnson coach Frank Zamora said his group has used last year’s finals loss as motivation, and a learning tool, for this season. The Knights (20-1-1) beat Woodward Academy 6-5 in last week’s semifinals, which avenged a 4-3 loss to the War Eagles during the regular season.

The Knights will take on St. Pius (12-3-4) another team they have a chance to get some redemption against. The Golden Eagles beat them 3-0 in 2016 in the Class 4A championship match.

“(This group) gained valuable experience playing in the championship game last year,” Zamora said. “Sometimes the game itself is the best teacher. The tough loss made us stronger. It made us hungrier to get back and have another opportunity for a different outcome.”
 
The foundation to the Knights’ success has been a dominating defense, anchored by keeper Kristian Hernandez. But in the previous two rounds of the playoffs, the offense has exploded for 12 goals. 

Zamora said they will need both against St. Pius. However, among common opponents, the Golden Knights were routed by Woodward 6-1 in their regular season finale.

“Both our defense and offense have been playing well. The offense is clicking, playing aggressive, and creating a lot of opportunities in the final third. We will have to continue to play that way,” he said. “However, our defense is also playing solid soccer. It will take a combined effort on Thursday.”


CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND SCHEDULE

TUESDAY, MAY 3
(at Mercer Stadium, Macon)

Class A Public
Commerce girls vs. Social Circle, 5 p.m.


THURSDAY, MAY 5
(at McEachern Stadium, Powder Springs)

Class 5A
Johnson boys vs. St. Pius,, 7:30 p.m.


THURSDAY, MAY 5
(at Mercer Stadium, Macon)

Class 4A
Jefferson girls vs. Marist, 5 p.m.

(Area teams listed in BOLD)

© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Soccer playoffs: Veteran Johnson boys, newcomers Jefferson, Commerce girls shooting for titles
For the Johnson boys soccer team, playing in May -- championship week -- has become not just something to look forward to, but expected. For the Jefferson and Commerce girls, however, it’s like discovering a whole new world...
7:46AM ( 2 seconds ago )
Playoff baseball: 6 NEGa area teams looking for Elite 8 berths
Only six of the 13 Northeast Georgia area teams to make the 2022 baseball playoffs advanced past the first round last week...
6:46AM ( 1 hour ago )
Chase Elliott wins at Dover to snap 26-race winless streak
Chase Elliott snapped a 26-race winless streak when the 2020 NASCAR champion pulled away down the stretch to win the Cup Series race on Monday at Dover Motor Speedway.
6:00AM ( 1 hour ago )
Sports
Baseball playoffs: Bluff sweeps Sandy Creek in wild series
The youth movement for Cherokee Bluff was on full display Friday night in the Bears’ Class 3A first round sweep of Sandy Creek, 9-1 and 16-10, at Bluff Ballpark...
12:19AM ( 3 days ago )
Boys soccer playoffs: Johnson edges Woodward to make 5A title game
Johnson avenged a late-season loss to No. 1 Woodward Academy when it really counted on Friday in the semifinals of the Class 5A playoffs.
10:05PM ( 3 days ago )
Boys soccer playoffs: East Hall's comeback falls short in OT
Playing two men down, the East Hall boys rallied back to tie the game 1-1 before losing in overtime to Northwest Whitfield, 5-1, on the road in the semifinals of the Class 4A playoffs on the road.
9:25PM ( 3 days ago )
High School Sports
Girls playoff soccer: Jefferson advances to 1st-ever title match; Commerce makes 8-A title game
The Jefferson girls soccer team pulled off its biggest win in program history on Thursday, knocking off Northwest Whitfield 5-0 to advance to their first-ever Class 4A state championship game...
By AccessWDUN Staff
8:45AM ( 3 days ago )
Boys soccer playoffs: East Hall heads back to semifinals with 3-0 win over Benedictine
East Hall took the more than two-hour lightning delay in stride with a shocking 3-0 road win over Benedictine Military on Tuesday in the Class 4A state quarterfinals.
By AccessWDUN Staff
10:58PM ( 6 days ago )
Boys soccer playoffs: Johnson rolls into 4th straight Final Four
Veterans had allowed just three goals over its last 12 matches, including just one in its first two Class 5A playoff games. It took second-ranked Johnson less than a half to match that total as the Knights rolled to an easy 6-1 victory at The Dungeon on Tuesday in the GHSA state quarterfinals...
8:52PM ( 6 days ago )
Girls soccer playoffs: Bluff rolls on night of upsets in Elite 8
The Cherokee Bluff girls soccer team continued its historic run through the 2022 state playoffs. The Lady Bears rolled past Morgan County 7-1 on Monday in Class 3A to advance to their first-ever semifinal round.
By AccessWDUN Staff
10:12PM ( 1 week ago )
Soccer playoffs: NEGa area brings stout group of teams into Elite 8 round
For teams like the Johnson and East Hall boys, playing in the quarterfinals of the Georgia High School Association soccer playoffs has become almost a yearly tradition. However, they aren't the only Northeast Georgia programs to put together deep playoff runs in recent years...
7:08AM ( 1 week ago )