They despise it so much the Lady Hoyas haven’t allowed a ball to get into their own net since March 4.
Harrison (17-0) has now recorded 12 straight shutouts going into Wednesday’s first round match against Lovejoy. If Harrison continues recording shutouts in the state tournament, chances of winning a Class AAAAAA state title this season are high.
Second-ranked Harrison came up short last season against Parkview in the state championship game, but most of last year’s starters — including forward and leading scorer Treva Aycock, midfielder Savannah Vanderbeck, defender Paige Porter and the effective goalkeeper duo of Allison Leone and Kelsey Daugherty — will be in uniform this week for the Lady Hoyas.
“I think we got basically everybody that played significantly last year back,” Harrison coach Steve Riccard said. “They are all focused, knowing how it ended last year. They are more familiar with demands and how more difficult the games will be. I don’t think I’ll have to motivate them that much.”
Harrison may get a test from No. 7 Walton, which won Region 5AAAAAA this season. The Lady Raiders (13-3-1) play a similar game, taking pride in their defensive play. And both teams own Cobb County’s leading scorers with Aycock and Walton’s Leigh Purinton scoring more than 30 goals this season.
The Lady Raiders will host Collins Hill on Wednesday to open the tournament.
Walton’s 5AAAAAA rival Lassiter, ranked No. 8, will host Duluth on Wednesday and could be on the road against top-ranked Brookwood in the second round next week if it wins.
Lassiter’s back line could take the Lady Trojans a long way this season, having 11 shutouts on the season.
What’s also helping is having a variety of scorers after departed after having to rely on former standout Bree Thompson to do provide the bulk of the offense. Senior forward Kaitlyn Sterling, who will be playing at Coastal Carolina next season, has been largely responsible for keeping the offense intact.
“Defensively, we will have to keep playing solid in the back and not making mistakes that other teams can capitalize on,” Lassiter coach Robbie Galvin said. “We just have to play Lassiter soccer. That’s the thing.”
Kennesaw Mountain was undefeated in Region 4AAAAAA until falling to Harrison late in the year but will still open at home against Alcovy on Wednesday. Hillgrove and Marietta will go on the road against Luella and Druid Hills respectively.
Allatoona and Pope won their regions in Class AAAAA and will host East Paulding and Cambridge, respectively. The No. 3-ranked Lady Buccaneers behind senior Ash Das will be gunning for their second state title in three years after winning the Class AAA crown in 2012.
Whitefield Academy turned things around after starting the season 2-6 by winning its last eight games to end the regular season. The Lady Wolfpack look to extend that streak in the first round May 2 at Holy Innocents.
The Walker girls (11-5) have recovered nicely from a 4-12 campaign in 2013 and are back in the hunt for a state championship. After winning Area 7A, Walker earned a bye into the state quarterfinals and will host either Pace Academy or Towne County on May 7.
Lovejoy at Harrison
Collins Hill at Walton
Marietta at Druid Hills
Hillgrove at Luella
Alcovy at Kennesaw Mountain
Duluth at Lassiter
Cambridge at Allatoona
East Paulding at Pope
Whitefield at Holy Inn. (May 2)