The conclusion of the spring sports season brought about championship week for local programs, and they didn’t come out empty handed.
It was a banner day for Wesleyan soccer as both teams won their respective Georgia High School Association (GHSA) Class A Private state championship matches in Powder Springs May 16.
The boys’ team took home the title with a 2-1 victory against Whitefield. It’s the second championship in program history for the Wolves and the first since 2016.
The WolfPack jumped out to a 1-0 lead at the 14:55 mark of the first half on a Wes Peterson goal. Wesleyan responded later in the half with a goal by Liam Coxhead on an assist from Javy Martinez to tie the score 1-1 heading into halftime. The Wolves took the lead for good early in the second half on Harrison Larner’s goal from an assist by Sean Renz to secure the championship.
“The key factor was not giving up when we were down 1-0,” Wesleyan boys’ head coach Billy Coxhead said. “Liam’s goal gave us momentum going into halftime. Aiden Kresl made many saves throughout the game, but especially in the final 15 minutes.”
Wesleyan concluded its season on a seven-match winning streak on its championship run.
“We were a mediocre 8-6 part way through the season,” Coxhead said. “However, at this point, we changed the lineup some and found a new rhythm for the rest of the season. Winning the second title in four years just shows that we have been blessed with some really good players during this time.”
The Wesleyan boys’ team started the postseason as the top seed from Area 8 and defeated King’s Ridge, Mount de Sales and Atlanta International before entering the title match.
The Wolves’ girls team won the state title with a 3-1 victory over Pinecrest. It’s Wesleyan’s second championship and first since 2017.
Lucy Mitchell scored two goals in the first half to give the Wolves a 2-1 lead heading into halftime. Ashley Cowart’s second-half goal brought home the title for Wesleyan.
“The chemistry of the team, the hard work, the leadership of many or our players and the great moment we were having in the playoff season were key factors,” Wolves’ girls head coach Guillermo Vallejo said. “It talks really high about the quality of our soccer program. We are a small school and this makes (it) difficult to have a lot of numbers. Out athletes have to compete in two sports or more. Winning two titles in three years is amazing. I am so proud of our players, my assistant coach, administrators, parents and everybody who supported our successful season.”
Wesleyan was the second seed from Area 8 and defeated Mount Pisgah Christian, First Presbyterian and Holy Innocents’ to reach the finals.
Westminster also saw its programs sweep their respective title matches in Class 3A May 17 in Powder Springs.
The Wildcats’ boys team capped off its 21-1-1 campaign in 2019 with a 4-0 victory over Coahulla Creek. It’s Westminster’s third consecutive title and 14th overall. All four goals were scored by different players in the first half starting with Weyimi Agbeyedbe, who also notched two assists. The other scores came from Michael Johnson, Charlie Ham and Ryan Schaufele. Midfielder Witt Sperau led the defensive unit that posted its 14th shutout of the season. Westminster was the top seed from Region 5AAA and defeated Hart County, Calhoun, Islands and Jefferson to reach the finals.
“The key factor in our victory was that we went out and executed our game plan to perfection, playing solid team defense and punishing them on the counter once we got the ball,” Westminster boys’ head coach Scott Snyder said.
The Wildcats’ girls earned its fifth straight title and 13th overall with a 3-1 overtime win over Lovett. Westminster took a 1-0 lead into halftime on Talia Staude’s goal on a direct free kick. Lovett responded with a score from Elke Gill on a header early in the second half to tie the score at 1-1, which stood until the end of regulation.
The Wildcats controlled the action in the overtime session starting with Tori Penn’s goal assisted by Madeline Langley and a second score from Riley Patton on a Penn assist to secure the victory.
Westminster finished its season with a record of 19-2-1, was the top seed from its region and defeated East Jackson, Lumpkin County, Islands and Greater Atlanta Christian to reach the finals. Lovett was 13-5-1 this season, was the second seed from the region and earned postseason victories over Morgan County, Calhoun, Southeast Bulloch and Jefferson before the title match.
“We absolutely dominated the first half and would have been comfortably out in front but for hitting the woodwork a couple of times and for stunning play by Lovett’s Kendall Hart in goal,” Westminster girls’ head coach Clark Meyer said. “Soccer can be a cruel game, and any team that creates that many chances and comes up empty will start to let doubt creep in. For long stretches of the second half after their equalizer, Lovett played with a sense of belief that made them hard to handle, and it took a lot of grit and character from my girls to keep the match from flipping. On a hot afternoon, I was able to rotate players frequently without any drop-off in our play.”
St. Pius X saw its girls team win its 12th state title with a 6-0 victory against Flowery Branch May 17 in the Class 4A finals. Renee Lyles notched the hat trick with three goals to finish her season total at 36. Helen Cherry, Helen Kolker and Clare Gornowicz were the other goal scorers for the Golden Lions. Goalkeeper Eve Beyer posted the shutout.
Our team’s fitness and overall speed of play were big factors in the game,” St. Pius X head coach Sara Schmitt said. “We came out hard and kept putting pressure on their back line. We also had Ava Scwarze and Lauren Bynum be big ball winners in the midfield.”
The Golden Lions finished their season with a record of 17-3-2, were the top seed from Region 8AAAA and defeated Chapel Hill, Marist, Northside (Columbus) and Blessed Trinity to reach the finals.
Atlanta Classical’s girls team reached the Class A Private state finals and faced the Academy for Classical Education in Macon May 16. The Cavaliers dropped the contest 2-0.
The GHSA lacrosse state championships were in Kennesaw May 18. The Class A-5A boys’ final pitted rivals Westminster and Lovett against each other. The back-and-forth affair concluded with the Wildcats emerging with a 9-8 victory in overtime. It’s Westminster’s sixth state title and second in three years.
The Wildcats had a 5-3 lead in the first half but the Lions mounted a comeback. Clyde Bresnahan’s goal with 2:27 left in regulation gave Lovett an 8-6 lead. Chance Loeffler’s goal with 38 seconds to go in the second half for Westminster cut the deficit. Paul Weathington’s strike with five seconds remaining in regulation tied the contest and forced overtime. The Wildcats won the championship on John Izlar’s game-winner.
Westminster was the top seed from Area 2 and defeated Mount Paran, Wesleyan, Starr’s Mill and Blessed Trinity to reach the finals. Lovett was the second seed from the same area and earned postseason victories against Carrollton, Marist, Fellowship Christian and Buford before the finals.
In the GHSA baseball playoffs, Pace fell to Pike County in the 3A championship series, 5-4 and 7-4 in Macon May 21. The Knights reached the finals with wins over East Jackson, Calhoun, Crisp County and North Hall in the first four rounds.
In the Class A Private tournament, Wesleyan lost to Savannah Christian in the semifinals May 14 and 15 two games to one. The Wolves won the first game 14-2 but lost Games 2 and 3 6-3 and 3-2, respectively. After getting a first-round bye, Wesleyan beat North Cobb Christian and Fellowship Christian to reach the semis.
Mount Vernon lost to Fellowship in the second round May 2 and 3, two games to one. The Mustangs lost Game 1 8-1, won Game 2 4-3 but fell in Game 3 12-5.
In other news, Lovett alumnus and professional shot putter David Pless placed second at the Tucson Elite Classic in Arizona in that event May 18, only behind world champion Ryan Houser. Pless is preparing for the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, which begins July 25.