Lassiter and Etowah finished as 2AAAAA’s top two seeds in an improved area and will be hosting first-round games. Defending state champion Walton and Woodstock are on the road as the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds.
The Trojans (13-2), who won area this year behind a stout defense led by goalkeeper Ryan Smith, will be hosting last year’s semifinalist Northview after winning a close bout with the Titans during the regular season. Walton is on the road against Milton, another 2011 state semifinalist. Etowah will be hosting Roswell, another playoff team last year, and Woodstock is on the road against Class AAAAA’s top-ranked Alpharetta.
“There (are) not a whole lot of weak spots coming in,” Lassiter coach Brendan Leezer said. “Area 3(AAAAA) by far seems to be the stronger region. I don’t think they have a weak team coming in. Three of us (in 2AAAAA) are very dominant and Etowah has improved dramatically. It’s anybody’s game this year.”
Walton (7-11) has had tough breaks in the regular season, losing in overtime to Etowah to start the season and dropping a two-goal decision to Lassiter in another area game. The state tournament is a new season for all teams and it may be when the Raiders start winning the close ones as they did in last year’s postseason.
The Raiders stand a chance of advancing after facing and losing by one goal to Milton as recently as last week.
Harrison, the Area 1AAAAA champion, is fielding a younger squad after advancing to the state championship last season and is on the same side of the bracket with Etowah and Walton. The Hoyas (9-6) may match up with Etowah in the state quarterfinals if they can get by North Gwinnett on Tuesday at home.
“It’s going to be a war,” Harrison coach Lee Rider said.
Harrison is coming off one of its biggest season wins, a 10-9 overtime victory over Milton behind four goals from Alex Mowry including the game-winner.
Hillgrove, 1AAAAA’s No. 3 seed, has made it to the playoffs for the second straight and its first objective is to win the program’s first postseason game at Collins Hill. The Hawks (10-5) has improved their offense this season behind leading scorers Jeffrey Mathis, Nick West and Stephen Galloway.
Pope has another shot at a state title in the Class A-AAAA bracket but Lambert may stand in the way in the championship for a second straight year if the Greyhounds should advance. The Longhorns are undefeated this season and hadn’t lost a match in two years.
The Greyhounds (13-3-1) settled for 2 A-AAAA’s No. 2 seed after a 9-7 loss to Westminster on May 2. Led by midfielder Holland Frost and defender Daniel Maples, they know they have another shot but knows they will have to get through Blessed Trinity in the first round Wednesday and possibly Lovett in the quarterfinals.
“We’re pretty focused and the guys have an idea on what we want to accomplish,” Pope coach Carl Pfaff said. “We’ve worked hard the last couple of days to get ready for (Blessed Trinity) and we’re in pretty good shape.”
Allatoona (10-7) has the misfortune of opening at defending state champion Lambert in the opening round. With the Longhorns scoring in double figures in 17 of their 18 games played this season, there will be more pressure on goalkeeper Connor Hansen.