It's postseason time, which means it's time for my annual predictions. Last year, I correctly picked the boys champions in both classifications (Lambert, AAAAAA; Allatoona, A-AAAA) and picked the correct matchups in both girls title games but got the winners wrong — Walton shocked Milton in AAAAAA and Blessed Trinity beat Kell in A-AAAA.
This year, reclassification has altered the format, as AAAAAA and AAAAAAA have merged to form 6A-7A. That will feature GHSA lacrosse's first-ever 32-team bracket. The other classification, A-5A, will feature a 16-team bracket that's traditional to GHSA lacrosse.
Earlier in the season, GHSA lacrosse administrator Denis Tallini discussed reclassification and the new postseason format, which features a neutral championship game site. That discussion can be read here.
Below are predictions for all four lacrosse state playoff tournaments, which begin on Tuesday.
- Lambert (15-1) has played at a higher level than any other Peach State team all season, and in addition to being No. 1 in the AJC and Laxpower.com RPI rankings, they are the No. 3 team in the South according to USLacrosse Magazine. The Longhorns should win the state's highest classification for the second year in a row, matching the back-to-back title feat they accomplished in the 2011-12 seasons.
- The first-ever 32-team lacrosse bracket features heavyweight matchups early and often. No. 4 Pope (13-5) and No. 5 Johns Creek (14-3) are on track to meet in the second round, and the winner of that game likely gets Lambert. No. 2 Mill Creek (16-1) and No. 7 Lassiter (12-4) could also meet in the second round. Both the likely matchups of Pope-Johns Creek and Mill Creek-Lassiter could go either way.
- Interesting first round matchups include Roswell (8-10) at North Atlanta (14-4) and Creekview (11-6) at Kennesaw Mountain (9-9).
- Top-ranked Milton (14-4) lost by a goal to Walton in last season's high-class title game, ending the Lady Eagles' string of consecutive championships at six. This season has served as a vengeance tour, and they've been laser-focused all season long. They're the No. 1 team according to the AJC and LaxPower.com's RPI rankings, and they're the South's No. 3 team according to USLacrosse Magazine. All signs point to them reclaiming the championship trophy, which would give them a head-turning 11 titles in the 13 seasons to add to their dynasty.
- The one team I give a puncher's chance at stopping Milton is No. 3 North Gwinnett. I have the two meeting in the semifinals. The Lady Bulldogs are 17-1, with their only loss coming 11-10 to No. 6 Northview (12-6 record).
- Potential Round 2 matchups worth noting: Creekview (11-6) at No. 9 Centennial (12-4); No. 8 Johns Creek (12-4) at Pope (9-9); No. 7 Cambridge (12-6) at No. 10 Kennesaw Mountain (15-2); No. 5 Walton (12-6) at No. 4 Mill Creek (15-3). All of those matchups could be considered coin flips.
- I've picked Westminster (14-4) to escape with its second state title in three years, and third in the past five years, but it won't come easy. The Wildcats will likely have to beat the same GAC team it lost to earlier this season in the semifinals before a possible title matchup against Lovett. Westminster, GAC (10-6) and Lovett (13-4) are basically on equal footing and I wouldn't be surprised in whichever of those won it all. It would be Westminster's fourth state title, or Lovett's fourth should it win it. GAC is gunning for its first state title.
- For a good chunk of the season, Blessed Trinity (15-3) held the state's No. 1 overall ranking over Milton in the LaxPower.com RPI rankings. The Lady Titans haven't lost to a school in their classification this season and are my favorites to win the A-5A state title for the second year in a row. Last season, they won their first title in program history.
- Starr's Mill (17-0) is the only team in the state with an undefeated record, but the Lady Panthers will likely meet their fate against Blessed Trinity in the semifinals.
- Keep an eye on McIntosh (17-1) to topple traditional power Kell (9-9) in the second round, and then to make some noise in the semifinals. The Lady Chiefs reaching the championship is not a far-fetched possibility.
- Latest AJC poll (from Week 9)
- LaxPower.com RPI boys rankings
- LaxPower.com RPI girls rankings
- USLacrosse Magazine boys rankings
- USLacrosse Magazine girls rankings