Sunday June 23rd, 2024 5:32PM

STATE FINALS: Buford girls look for 1st-ever title

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter

After falling short once before in the finals and three more near-misses in the semfinals, the Buford girls will finally have another shot at their first-ever state title.

The Lady Wolves will take on West Forsyth at 5 p.m. Friday at Duluth High School for the Class 7A championship. It is a showdown of the top two teams in the classification.

Although Buford has been here before -- the Lady Wolves lost to McIntosh in the 5A title game in 2017 -- it will be the first for coach Megan Hill and the current roster. For most of the current roster, they lost in 2021 and 2022 in the Class 6A Final Four.

“Obviously it would mean a lot to these girls,” Hill said. “They deserve it. They have worked so hard this season and have poured so much into each other throughout every session.”

The key for Buford (20-0-1) will be a defense that allowed just three goals all season against a Lady Wolverines group (20-0-2) that is averaging 3.5 goals/game and 4.0 goals/game in the playoffs. Senior Alina Pope has been nearly untouchable in goal behind the defensive unit of Yazzie Vargas, Izzy Skinner, Maci Stancil, and Mara Sheppard.

“Alina has come up big in some of her saves she has made,” Hill said. “Our entire team is resilient and we all cover for each other.”

But the Lady Wolves offense leads 7A with 102 goals (4.8 goals/game). Hill said despite the numbers, they won;t alter a thing that has gotten them this far.

“Play with a purpose,” Hill said. “The message to these girls will be the same as any other playoff game we have had this year: just play the way we know how.”

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