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North Hall girls ready for St. Pius
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When: 7 tonight

Where: St. Pius X

Whether vocalized or not, the North Hall girls soccer team has spent the season preparing.

They played the likes of Walker and Greater Atlanta Christian, both of which are ranked in the top 10 of the all-classification poll.
The beat Creekview, West Forsyth, Druid Hills and Spalding; each ranked in the top 10 in Class AAA.

The Lady Trojans have spent their 20-game season in preparation for tonight and a chance to win a state championship.

“A goal of the season was to make the championship game,” North Hall coach Nathan Wallace said. “The girls understand it’s going to take a lot to win the championship game, but they want it.”

Standing in the way of second-ranked North Hall (17-3) winning the program’s first state title is the No. 1 ranked team in the state, and the nation, St. Pius X.

The Lady Golden Lions (21-0) have a history of excellence at the state tournament level. Since 1998, they have won three state titles and been the state runner-up three times, including last year when they were beaten 2-1 in penalty kicks by Marist in the Class AAAA state title game.

“We’ve tried to compare them to a couple of other people we’ve played,” Wallace said, “but there is really no comparison.

“We went and saw them play GAC and that will help us (tonight),”

To say North Hall’s opponent is stout offensively is an understatement. Led by forwards Alexa Newfield, Christine Christy and Carly Lafferty, St. Pius has scored 137 goals on the season, that’s 6.5 goals per game.

And the Lady Golden Tigers productivity hasn’t dropped off in the playoffs: They are beating teams by 6.5 goals per game.

“They do a great job of passing the ball around and are strong at every position,” Wallace said. “They look to maintain possession, but we feel that could work in our favor because our girls are disciplined.

“If we can get one or two opportunities, we can do something special.”

As has been the case all season, those one or two opportunities will come on the heels of a Lady Trojans’ defense that has shutout 11 of its last 12 opponents while giving up less than one goal per game.

The anchor for that defense is goalkeeper and Columbus State & University signee Mary Mancin.

Mancin has made a save on 88 percent of the shots she’s faced and her proclivity for keeping the ball out of the net will be crucial tonight.

But not as crucial as her defense making sure the ball never gets there in the first place.

“We aren’t going to be able to let them pass it around because that’s when their dangerous,” Wallace said. “The girls are going to have to play together, communicate and not back down.

“Challenging them and going after and winning those 50-50 balls will be a key for us.”

While the defense will afford the offense opportunites, the Lady Trojans will have to capitalize and leading scorers Tess Patton, Allie Wright and Julia Matthews will be looked at to do just that.

Patton comes in as the team’s leader in goals scored with 22, she also has 12 assists. Wright and Matthews have 20 and 16 goals respectively on the season and have combined for 22 assists.

They will face a St. Pius defensive backline led by Erin Hill, Jamie Raines, Grace Raines and keeper Emily Cox that has allowed just six goals this season and are responsible for the Lady Golden Tigers’ 18 shutouts on the season.

“Nobody in the state, nobody in the nation for that matter, expects us to win,” Wallace said. “We’re going to go in as underdogs and see if we can’t pull off the upset.
“We feel like we’re a quality team and if we play to the best of our abilities, we’ll be just fine.”
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