The top-ranked Trojans (16-0) are undefeated and unbeaten going into the Class AAAAAA boys soccer state playoffs, but they aren’t taking that for granted. They were perfect going into the postseason two years ago, before they were stopped by Collins Hill in the semifinals.
“They’ve gotten to the door but haven’t walked through it,” first-year Lassiter coach Sam Dietrich said. “This is a group of kids who have been there as sophomores. They’ve tasted what it’s like to have an undefeated season, and they definitely don’t want to keep making the same mistakes they made in the past.”
The strength of the Region 5AAAAAA champions lies on the senior leadership of midfielders Clay Dimick and Robbie Cutchin, forward Alex Champion and goalkeeper Justin Shaw. They will have to use that to their advantage if they are to play for a state championship, knowing their portion of the draw will be challenging.
Lassiter will host South Gwinnett on Wednesday to get things started, and it will face a challenge immediately afterward if it advances. The Trojans’ second round opponent would be either No. 4 Lambert or No. 10 Duluth.
Third-ranked East Coweta, which could likely face Region 4AAAAAA runner-up Campbell in the second round, may await for Lassiter in the quarterfinals.
“We’re excited to be in playoffs,” Dietrich said. “One thing we try to do is take it one game at a time. We’re not going to try to do anything too different.”
North Cobb (9-6), the third seed of 4AAAAAA behind Campbell (12-5) and champion Harrison (14-3), is on Lassiter’s half of the draw. Making a run to the semifinals is manageable, with only No. 9 Berkmar in the Warriors’ portion of the bracket.
Fifth-ranked Harrison made it through region play unscathed, behind the efforts of forward Cole Guertin and defender Ryne Sieracki. The Hoyas open at home against Coffee and are favored to make it into the quarterfinals, where a potential rematch against No. 2 Centennial, the Region 6AAAAAA champion, may await them.
Harrison wouldn’t mind getting payback should the two teams meet. The Hoyas lost a 1-0 decision to the Knights earlier this month.
“You’re going to have to beat a lot of good teams to be state champions,” Harrison coach Jonathan Gross said. “Right now, we guarantee ourselves home games. That’s a nice thing when you’re first round is against Coffee County. Do we have winnable games? The answer is yes, but soccer is one of easiest sports to pull an upset in.”
Walton (10-5-1), the No. 3 seed of Region 5AAAAAA is at No. 8 Central Gwinnett and could potentially face No. 7 Collins Hill in the second round.
The fourth seed of 4AAAAAA, Kennesaw Mountain (10-7) is also in Walton’s quarter of the draw and will head south to play Lowndes in the opening round.
Pope (11-5-1) is entering the Class AAAAA tournament with momentum after claiming the Region 7AAAAA title, the Greyhounds’ first region title in 14 years.
Led by forward Zach McCown, who is playing his best soccer since tearing his ACL last season, the 10th-ranked Greyhounds will host Dunwoody on Wednesday. A win would likely set up a second-round meeting at home with No. 6 Gainesville.
Pope’s region rival, Kell (12-6) ended up as the fourth seed and will head to No. 7 Lakeside DeKalb. The Longhorns also have top-ranked McIntosh and No. 8 Heritage-Conyers in their part of the draw.
Allatoona (16-1) would have an interesting road to the semifinals after claiming the Region 5AAAAA title.
The fifth-ranked Buccaneers could either host county rival Osborne or ninth-ranked Tucker in the second round, if they get by Cedar Shoals in the opening round. They also have No. 2 Glynn Academy and Starr’s Mill in their part of the draw.
Area 7A champion Mount Paran (9-6) has a first-round bye and will wait the winner of Fellowship Christian and Providence Christian in a second-round game May 8.
Walker, the 7A runner-up, will host Pace Academy on Friday, despite having five wins on the season. A victory would put the Wolverines at No. 4 Holy Innocents’ in the second round.