In a season where the expectations may have not been high, the Chestatee girls shocked teams throughout the regular season as they made their way to the No. 2 seed from Region 8-AAAA for the state playoffs.
However, the Lady War Eagles’ season ended with a 5-0 loss to Carrollton, the third seed from Region 5-AAAA, in the opening round Tuesday in Gainesville.
“We knew (Carrollton) were going to be good coming in,” Chestatee head coach Mark Dunn said. “You have to play your best to have a shot at them.”
After falling behind 2-0 in the first half, Dunn said he knew his team was in for an uphill battle.
“In soccer, when you have a 2-0 (deficit) you’re in a hard position,” Dunn said. “We kind of pressed them and thought if we could get one back, we could turn the momentum.
“They’re a good team. We lost to a quality team and hung in there as best we could.”
The pressure nearly paid off as the Lady War Eagles began to move the ball up the field and take more shots on goal. They nearly had back-to-back goals in the final 30 minutes of play, but Carrollton’s goalkeeper Karlie Hightower made the game-changing diving stops to prevent either goal.
“Chestatee came out and gave us some issues,” said Carrollton head coach Drew Ebensberger. “All the way around, (Chestatee) did a good job.
“We were fortunate to put it in the back of the net, but Chestatee never quit. They kept going at us and put me in some stressful situations at times. Dunn has a solid squad. I look forward to next year. I think he’s going to do well again next year.”
Looking back on the season, Dunn couldn’t have been any prouder of what his team accomplished.
“I’m proud of the girls,” he said. “Winning season, region runner-up. When you get to the state tournament, it’s a one-game season, and they got this far. You have to give them credit for that.
Dunn said that he expected the team to be at least fourth in the region after winning some big games.
“We beat Johnson in overtime. That was a big game,” Dunn said. “We beat Stephens (County) up at their place, and Lanier was close. We got to the playoffs. That was good for the seniors to go out that way.”
Coach Dunn also said the team has good players coming up as freshmen next season and good returning players currently on the varsity squad that will keep the Lady War Eagles in good shape for next year.
Chestatee senior Alexis Rebollar described the season as a “blessing” for the team.
“I didn’t expect (the season) to go so well, but you learn from other experiences,” Rebollar said.
On Carrollton’s performance, Rebollar said, “(Carrollton’s) a great team. They played good. They played aggressive, they played fair, and it was really something to watch.”
A loss like this can devastate teams, but Rebollar wanted to pass on advice to the younger players that the loss wouldn’t linger.
“Just shake it off,” she said. “You have other games ahead of you. It’s one game, but just learn from it and keep moving forward.”
Carrollton’s offense, led by Isabel Rothschadl, wasted little time in testing the Lady War Eagles’ defense. Rothschadl scored three goals, including the game’s opening goal, and tacked on two more in the second half. She also had one assist.
Falen Kizunga and Emily Adams scored the Lady Trojans’ other goals. Adams also assisted Kizunga on her goal, as she booted the ball from the left corner to in front of the goal, where Kizunga was able to find the back of the net.