The state championship was their just desserts, and sweet revenge was icing on the cake for the McIntosh Lady Chiefs, as they recaptured the crown with a dominating 7-0 victory over Whitewater Saturday afternoon.
The Chiefs returned to the scene of the crime at Mercer University where a year earlier the Wildcats had bested them in PKs for the state championship. This year, McIntosh left nothing to chance.
“Our two goals this season were to win the state championship and have an amazing experience along the way, and we did that,” said McIntosh coach Casey Kreitner, who is a champion in her first year as head coach. “I’m just super proud of the team. Every single person contributed. They really came out here today and showed who the best team was.”
In just the fourth minute, McIntosh lit up the scoreboard. Tariah Miller played it to Katelyn Galbraith outside the box, and Galbraith shook free of the defense with some fancy footwork, launching a rocket from 30 yards out into the back of the net for the opening strike.
They kept up the pressure on goal, forcing senior keeper Anna Agi, and later sophomore Avery Quick, to make a number of stellar saves.
The Chiefs broke through again in the 29 minute with Morgan Yocom scoring from long distance on a free kick. They added more cushion with under three minutes left until the break when freshman Bailey Wagenknecht, working up the left side of the box, drilled a perfectly-placed shot up into the right corner of the goal for a 3-0 advantage that would hold until the half.
The rest clearly did not cool them off as they added to the margin just 45 seconds into the second half with freshman Keara Collins joining the scoring party.
Wagenknecht notched her second score of the game off a through ball from Collins for a 5-0 lead with 16:11 left in the match.
Lightning-quick senior Tariah Miller put it out of reach for good with a pair of late goals, the final blow coming when Grace Podolski broke up a clearing attempt and fed Miller on a breakaway. When the keeper charged, Miller popped it over the top and into the net for the 7-0 margin.
“It feels great,” said Miller. “I love getting another state championship my last year.”
McIntosh’s defense, keyed by Skyler Dzenis, Katherine Kimmel, and Yocom, kept keeper Stephanie Yi’s workload light as she saw precious few attempts on goal. It was a nice change of pace for Yi after last year’s loss to the Cats.
“Ever since last year, we’ve worked really hard,” said Yi. “To beat one of the best teams in Georgia 7-0 is really incredible.”
Standing as the queens of the hill is a familiar feeling for the Lady Chiefs. The win over Whitewater marks the 12th state championship in team history, and with a large batch of key starters returning, the expectation is they will be back for a crack at another trophy next year.
“If all goes according to plan, yes, we plan to be back here next year,” said Kreitner.
Miller is even more confident that the returning talent has what it takes to play for another title.
“Yes, most definitely.”
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