We’ve made it through the first six weeks of the 2017 soccer season and entered the official start of Spring. With just five weeks left in the regular season, there were month-long winning streaks and undefeated records put to the test. Key battles for region supremacy also took place across the classifications, and some of the state’s hottest teams were delivered their first tests of the second half of the regular season.
In Class 7A, Etowah avoided the loss column by forcing a 2-2 tie with Class 6A Cambridge on Monday. This tie follows a showdown the previous Monday with Centennial that the Eagles took 2-1. Etowah followed the tie with Cambridge by netting a 1-0 win over rival Cherokee on Friday to improve to 10-0-1. Trent Barbareee found the back of the net at the 63-minute mark for Etowah’s game-winning goal and 10th win of the season.
Pace Academy remains in the front line of the Class 3A title hunt and after suffering losses in two of its last three games, rebounded with a 2-1 victory over Marist this Tuesday to improve its record to 5-5. Pace Academy’s first and only boys soccer championship came in 2006, but the Knights’ challenging season slate will train them for an established Class 3A field that includes Westminster, Greater Atlanta Christian and other polished programs like East Hall, Dawson County, Windsor Forest and North Murray. Pace Academy’s remaining five games on its schedule are lined with challenging matchups, but its next two games remain the most important. The Knights will face off with 5-2 Stone Mountain this Tuesday looking to improve their 1-0 region record before closing out conference play with a trip to Westminster on March 31. The final three games are cross-classification clashes with Lovett, Holy Innocents' and McIntosh that the Knights will hope to be using as dress rehearsals for their postseason gauntlet.
Grady sits at 9-1-2 in Class 5A, and its first loss of the season came on Tuesday in a 4-1 defeat to defending Class 5A champion Riverwood. Riverwood followed its three-goal win over the Knights with a 4-1 win over Decatur on Friday to improve its record to 9-2-1 record. Riverwood’s only losses this season have come in a 5-2 defeat to 7A Walton on Valentine’s Day and a 3-2 loss to Berkmar on March 3. Riverwood and Grady lead a Class 5A field that also features 9-1-1 Clarkston, 8-2-1 Starr’s Mill and 10-1-0 McIntosh, which has captured five state titles. McIntosh’s only loss of the season came last month in a 3-2 home loss to Dalton. However, Dalton’s new home in Class 6A opens up the 5A field, while Catamounts at the top of a Class 6A field that includes Chattahoochee, Allatoona, Gainesville and Greenbrier among others.
Berkmar remains one of the hottest teams in the state in with an eight-game winning streak and an 8-0-1 record that started with a 2-2 draw to Cross Keys. Berkmar scored a 3-1 win over Central Gwinnett on Friday, but things are about to get a lot tougher for the Patriots in their final seven games of the season. Berkmar’s next seven games include seven matches against teams with winning records. The slate includes Parkview (7-2), Brookwood (6-3-1), Meadowcreek (7-3), Collins Hill (7-2-2), Lakeside-DeKalb (7-2-1), Norcross (7-2) and Gainesville (9-2) for a combined 50-16-4 record. Elsewhere in Class 7A, 9-0 Peachtree Ridge will face 7-2-1 Lakeside-DeKalb on the road this Tuesday. Class 7A’s Campbell and Newnan met in a battle of unbeaten teams on Thursday. Newnan overcame a 2-0 deficit, but Campbell secured the game-winning goal with 20 seconds left to prevent the upset. Campbell sits at 8-0 with six games left on the slate, including a top 10 showdown with Pebblebrook this Friday, which rides a seven-game winning streak after opening the year with a 7-4 loss to Etowah.