For the rest of the region, the playoffs are coming a little early.
After Harrison, five teams — Kennesaw Mountain, Campbell, North Cobb, Marietta and Pebblebrook — are still alive for the final three playoff spots. Every team has at least two region games remaining, and one slip-up could cost a team its postseason berth.
The race for the playoffs will begin in earnest tonight with Pebblebrook (4-4-1, 2-3) at Kennesaw Mountain (7-5, 4-1), Harrison at Marietta (8-3, 3-2) and Campbell (7-5, 4-2) at Hillgrove (2-9-1, 1-5).
North Cobb (5-6, 4-2) will host a non-region game with Cherokee tonight, but matchups with Pebblebrook and Kennesaw Mountain loom on its schedule.
“These games are all important,” said Kennesaw Mountain coach Daniel DePlanche, whose team is currently second in the region standings after suffering its first loss — to Campbell — on Tuesday.
The Mustangs will also play at Harrison and North Cobb over their final five games.
“To get to four wins in this region is key, but to pretty much lock yourself into the playoffs, you need five wins,” DePlanche added, “so we’re playing (tonight’s) game like it’s a playoff game. It’s our last region game at home and we’d like to get a win. We’re coming up on teams that are tough, and I don’t want to leave it to that last region game between us and North Cobb. We want to take every game from here on.”
Campbell, North Cobb and Marietta all have two region losses. However, Marietta only has three victories and must still face Harrison, McEachern and Pebblebrook.
“Our team is in the mix, and I think we’re set up pretty well, especially with a good showing (tonight),” Blue Devils coach Brian Kane said. “People are beating each other at the top and it’s a competitive region. Including Harrison, all six teams have a shot at the playoffs.”
Marietta fell into a 1-2 region hole early in season, but has worked its way back into contention.
“We had two slip-ups back-to-back early and have to make up for those. We don’t want it in somebody else’s hands. We have to take care of our own business and we’ll be OK.”
Campbell, which also has South Cobb (4-6-1, 1-4) remaining on the schedule, may be in the best position to earn the region’s No. 2 seed. The Spartans have losses against Marietta and Harrison, but victories over North Cobb, Kennesaw Mountain and Pebblebrook has helped their cause.
Should Marietta lose to Harrison tonight, it would have three region losses and would no longer hold the tiebreaker over Campbell. Kennesaw Mountain would also need to lose to Harrison on Tuesday for Campbell to jump into second place — as long as it wins its final two region games.
“We’ve been talking about not playing to the level of our competition,” Campbell coach Phil Sandifer said, “so we’ll need to elevate our play over these final two region games.
“I’ve coached soccer here for seven years and I’m in my fourth season as head coach. It would mean a lot for this community to host a state playoff game. I think hosting a state playoff game would send a message that we’re serious about what we do. It would be a big deal to host.”