(Photos by Adam Hagy and Christopher Dunn)

by Russell Cooks
& Christopher Dunn

The Whitewater Lady Wildcats totally dominated the Locust Grove Lady Wildcats on Wednesday evening by a score of the second round of the girls state playoffs.
It was total domination from the beginning of the game, as Whitewater lived on the Locust Grove end of the field in the first half. Locust Grove only took three shots on goal in the first half and none were a threat to get in the goal, as goalie Emma Fulton did a masterful job of defending the Whitewater goal.
The stars of the first half were the Whitewater midfielders, Haleigh Meuninck, Abby Smithwick, and Emily Stevenson. They only allowed Locust Grove to cross midfield a total of five times in the first half.
After a barrage of shots on goal by Peyton Lee, Ally Smithwick, and Maddie Longley, it was Longley who connected on a header to give the Lady Wildcats a 1-0 lead at the 14:15 mark. Aubrey Heard got the first of her three assists on a corner shot that Longley converted with a perfect head shot.
Lee, a masterful free kick artist, had two free kicks in the final minutes of the first half. One from the Whitewater offensive third that was well defended by Locust Grove and the second at the :55 second mark that was tipped away at the last second by goalie Brooke Alley, to keep the score at 1-0 Whitewater at halftime.
Locust Grove made their first offensive threat at 36:38 mark on a free kick by Kelsie McClure, but, true to form, Fulton tipped ball over the goal at the last second. Fulton had a total of four saves for the game.
At the 30:05 mark, it was Heard with an assist to Emily Petersen to give Whitewater a 2-0 lead. Less than six minutes later, it was Heard again with an assist to Lee to make the score 3-0.
Fourteen seconds later, it was Peyton Lee connecting on a penalty kick to make the score 4-0 Whitewater.
Senior Aubrey Heard, who had three assists, said, “We played really hard. We connected well as a team. I feel like we have grown as a team, and, if we go out and play with confidence, we can be very successful in the state playoffs.”
Senior Peyton Lee, who scored two goals in 15seconds, added, “The first goal was awesome. Aubrey Heard set me up perfectly with the assist. The penalty kick, well, it was just my day.”
Whitewater head coach Randy Hayes said, “We did pretty well. They played a packed defense and we finally figured out how to attack it with success. Our midfield played very well in the first half. They did a phenomenal job in not letting Locust Grove past the middle of the field. We play St.Pius next, and I think that we can beat them if we play our game.”
Taylor Marks, 2013 Whitewater graduate, now playing for the Columbus State University Lady Cougars, said, “I am enjoying watching them play. It is fun to see the girls who I played with when they were freshmen and now they are leading the team as seniors. We went to the state championship game four years that I was here, and we lost every year. I am hoping that this year’s  team can finally bring the championship to Whitewater.”
The win improves  Whitewater’s record to 11-6-1 overall and 4-0 in region play. Whitewater hosts St. Pius tonight at 7 p.m. in the third round of the state playoffs. The Lady Wildcats will have revenge on their mind because St. Pius knocked them out in the semifinals last year.

McIntosh sent the Red Elephants packing this week, as the Chief boys and girls swept Gainesville out of the state soccer playoffs in round two.
The Chief boys claimed a commanding 3-0 win Tuesday night.
McIntosh took a 1-0 lead in the first half before turning up the pressure after the break. In the 16th minute, Clay Jackson set up Takuma Suzuki for the opening strike. Thirteen minutes into the second half, it was Matthew Craig beating the keeper off a Jake Donaldson assist. Donaldson provided the insurance goal himself off a free kick with ten minutes to play in the match.
Parker Romo was dynamic in goal, shutting out Gainesville with 8 key saves.
The Lady Chiefs punched their Elite Eight ticket Wednesday with a 3-2 win over Gainesville, building up a lead, then holding off a rally.
McIntosh surged ahead to a 2-0 lead, but Gainesville was game, slicing the advantage to 2-1 at the end of the first half.
Nearing the midway point of the second half, Caroline Laux scored to give the Chiefs the cushion they would need. Gainesville scored again with just over three minutes to play, but that would be all they could muster as McIntosh sealed up the victory.
The boys travel to play Riverwood tonight at 7 p.m., while the girls travel to play Cambridge Saturday afternoon at 5 p.m.

The Starr’s Mill Lady Panthers advanced in the state playoffs Wednesday night with a hard fought 4-0 win over the Heritage (Conyers) Patriots. The teams battled for each advantage all evening with the Panthers controlling the tempo but Heritage countering with effect. The game developed early with Starr’s Mill working the ball forward quickly as the Patriots tried to spring their forwards at every opportunity. The Panthers deep line kept space over the top to a minimum providing midfield possession for Heritage.
Riley Clark created the chance that opened the scoring spring down the wing with the ball before finding Leslie Logan on the opposite side. Logan calmly settled the ball before powering home a shot from just outside the 18 to put the Panthers up 1-0 in the 25th minute. Clark, Logan, Lauren Yoss, Lexy Weaver, and Macey Voorhies created all kinds of problems and created chances repeatedly with the Heritage keeper coming up huge time and again to deny another goal, including a triple save in one sequence.
Clark would not be denied however and when Ansley Peurifoy played her in, she cut the center back and finished past the charging keeper to double the lead with just 62 seconds remaining in the half.
Ashley Broderick, Laurel Parker, Katelyn LaRusso, and Voorhies were everywhere charging down the Heritage midfield to press and connecting passes to the forwards consistently. Dylan Patterson, Ashton Nowicki, Meritt Parker, and Peurifoy forced the Patriots to slow down and allowed few chances through the game, giving keeper Ashlyn Walloch little to do but organize and clean up balls played through.
After the half, the game proceeded in the same manner with Starr’s Mill gathering momentum. Laurel Parker found Clark in the 52nd minute, and she again capitalized to make it 3-0. Less than a minute later it was Yoss’s turn to feed Clark who made no mistake in finishing off the game at 4-0. Heritage pushed for a couple of half chances, but the defense held on for the shutout.
The win raises the teams record to 18-2-0 as Starr’s Mill moves on to the quarterfinals. They play at North Atlanta, a 6-0 winner over Camden Co, today at 4 p.m. after losing a coin toss to determine the host.
The Starr’s Mill boys went on the road in round two, suffering a tough 1-0 loss to Clarke Central Tuesday on the road.