For the first time in school history, the Chestatee High boys soccer team is headed to the state semifinals.
Austin Manzo scored the game-winning goal in the 72nd minute as the second-seeded War Eagles earned a 2-1 win against No. 3 seed Woodward Academy in the Class 4A quarterfinals Saturday, May 5, in Gainesville. Chestatee (18-2) will try to keep its historic run going when it faces No. 1 seed Upson-Lee at a time to be determined Tuesday in Thomaston.
“The kids are celebrating and are excited about it,” War Eagles coach Michael Herrin said. “ ... (Woodward Academy) was pretty direct and played the long ball. With them playing the ball over the top a lot, we pressed their back line, forced some turnovers and took advantage of it.
“They were a forward team using their size, putting a lot of balls to the top and trying to break through. With us being a little smaller, we had to be more determined and challenge the ball.”
That strategy paid off immediately as Uriel Rocha scored off an assist from Manzo in the opening minute. Woodward Academy answered soon after, and the teams remained deadlocked until Manzo notched the deciding goal late in the second half.
Upson-Lee, meanwhile, advanced to the semifinals with a 4-3 win against Blessed Trinity, which shares Region 7-4A with Chestatee.
JOHNSON BOYS 1, UNION GROVE 0: Though the Knights were a bit disappointed in their performance Saturday, they still got the outcome they wanted.
Marco Vazquez scored a first-half goal on an assist from Josh Elizalde as Johnson defeated fellow No. 1 seed Union Grove in the Class 5A state quarterfinals at Billy Ellis Memorial Stadium in Oakwood. The Knights (16-2-2) advanced to the state semifinals for the first time since 2016, when they finished as state runners-up.
Johnson coach Brian Shirley and his players know there’s still more work to be done, especially after what he characterized as a less-than-desireable outing in the quarterfinals.
“Tonight wasn’t our best game. We missed a lot of open looks on goal and played a bit flat,” Shirley said. “The guys were pretty down on the performance tonight and knew it wasn’t our best.
“But on the flip side of that, they knew we got the result we needed. Now we’ll move on and work on getting back into the swing of things and finding our groove again Monday at practice.”
The Knights will hit the road for their semifinal match Tuesday against the winner of the Carrollton/Starr’s Mill match, a battle of No. 1 seeds. Johnson will be the visitor due to a GHSA coin flip that assigned home-field advantage to squads from the top half of the bracket for games between similarly seeded teams.
WINDSOR FOREST BOYS 2, EAST HALL 0: The top-seeded Vikings (13-3-4) fell one game short of a third consecutive trip to the state semifinals with a Class 3A quarterfinal loss Saturday in Gainesville.
Instead, fellow No. 1 seed Windsor Forest will host either top-seeded Pike County or No. 2 seed Calhoun on Tuesday.
Compiled by Marcus Rodrigue