The soccer season came to an end this weekend at McEachern in Powder Springs and Mercer University in Macon with countless highlights dominating the championship weekend.
The Westminster girls and boys teams successfully defended their titles for the second consecutive season in Class AAA, making it four in a row for the Lady Wildcats. Benedictine’s Gavin Stewart had a career performance in the Class AA title game, scoring six goals while leading his team to the championship.
Here's a glance at each classification:
Class AAAAAAA: In the state’s highest classification, Lambert won its second state boys soccer title with a 3-2 victory against South Forsyth. Kyler Darsey, who had two assists, was a young elementary school student watching the event when Lambert won its first state title in 2012, and the thrill of being a part of the Longhorns' state championship team was unparalleled. Darsey assisted Noah Sivinski’s goal with 31:18 left in the second half, and with just five minutes remaining, he found Hayden Fontana for the go-ahead goal.
Class AAAAAA: Chattahoochee defended its title after defeating Cambridge 2-1 in extra time. The victory marked the third boys soccer title for Chattahoochee since the first in 2011. The teams fought through a scoreless first half and for nearly 23 minutes of the second half without a goal. That changed when Sammy Viada gave Chattahoochee a 1-0 lead with eight minutes left. Cambridge answered back with a goal from Ryan Walker with :28 seconds left in the game, sending the match to extra time. Chattahoochee’s Ryan Kapper sealed the victory with a game-winning header off a corner kick to push the lead to 2-1. The Cougars weathered a second overtime period to win the championship.
Class AAAAA: Johnson-Gainesville defeated defending champion McIntosh to win its first boys soccer title. McIntosh won in 2017 and was going for its sixth championship. Johnson’s Michael Arcia scored the goal-ahead goal on a rebound put-back. The goal, however, could have been a game-tying goal following goalkeeper Cooper Bowen’s back-to-back diving saves just outside the net. On a cross from Brandon Fambro, Bowen dove and made the save, but couldn’t secure the ball. He then dove to his left as a McIntosh player also tried for a shot. The saves were crucial in upsetting the defending champions.
Class AAAA: Northwest Whitfield won its first state title with a 3-2 victory against Chestatee, following two goals in the final 3:30 of regulation. The game was scoreless at the break before Northwest Whitfield took a 1-0 lead on a 30-yard laser from Anthony Ramirez. Chestatee fought back with two goals, the first one from Austin Manzo with 21:24 left in the game. The next goal was a bit more interesting. As best as anyone in the press box could tell, it was a rolling, laying-on-the-ground, in-the-box header from Uriel Rocha. It was a strange goal to say the least. Rocha fell in the box after a rebounded ball that was rolling along the goal line. Knowing he could not touch the ball, or even stand up without touching the ball, Rocha used his head to force the ball to break the plane. But Northwest Whitfield’s Sergio Soria scored with a shot to the near post with 3:30 left. Just a minute and a half later, Soria assisted Fabian Navarro with the go-ahead goal and the victory.
Class AAA: Westminster asserted its dominance, defending its title with a 1-0 victory against Calhoun on a goal from Danny DeSouza with three minutes left in the game. DeSouza scored on a low 8-yard pitch shot through a box filled with players. Calhoun’s goalkeeper was shielded from DeSouza, allowing the goal. The Wildcats have 13 boys soccer titles and have won five of the last eight titles in Class AAA and Class AA.
Class AA: Benedictine won its second-ever state title after successfully defending its 2017 crown with a 7-0 thrashing of Putnam County in Macon. Benedictine’s Gavin Stewart had six of the seven Cadets goals. “I just know I couldn’t have done it without my team,” Stewart said. “All I cared about was winning for them.” Stewart finished the season with 46 goals. He scored within two minutes of the opening whistle and again just three minutes later. David Hale, a freshman forward, scored the only other goal with 18 minutes left in the opening half.
Class A: Paideia’s 2-0 victory against Atlanta International sealed the fourth state title in school history. Lorenzo Socchi gave Paideia a 1-0 lead at the 25-minute mark of the first half. Jack Reilly pushed the lead to 2-0 with a goal on a rebound inside the box. Paideia has won four of the last six titles in Class A – 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2018.