Walton is still looking for its first state final after four straight semifinal appearances.
Both teams are ready to take the final steps to a championship.
The Lady Trojans strengthened their non-area schedule last season and nearly upset Milton in last year’s state finals and have done the same this season.
Walton, anchored by leading scorer Erin McBride and goalkeeper Emily James, beefed up its out-of-region slate this season with hopes to going further in the state tournament, and its season highlight was beating Loyola (Ill.), the 12th ranked team in the nation according to LAXPower.com.
“We beefed up the competitiveness of our schedule,” Walton coach Mandy Ryan said. “I think our kids should be more prepared in they were in the past because of better competition. I think our decision making, passing and tempo has accelerated.”
Because last year’s state champion (Milton) and runner-up (Lassiter) are in Area 2AAAAAA with Walton and Walton lost to both teams, the Lady Raiders (11-6-1) will go on the road to face Kennesaw Mountain, Area 1AAAAAA’s No. 2 seed, Wednesday in the first round of the Class AAAAAA state tournament.
Walton is primarily made up of underclassmen, but it has shown it has the talent to upend Lassiter should the teams meet in the semifinals.
Walton lost 10-9 to the Lady Trojans in regular season play and lost by a goal to Lassiter in last year’s semifinal.
The Lady Trojans (15-3) have several offensive options that include Cydney Tutchton, Alex Fusco, Mary Carter Putman and Alana Abbott and are just as deep on the defensive end. They started clicking down the stretch, winning six straight games, Walton included, before dropping a 14-10 decision to Milton.
Lassiter will host Newnan in the first round Wednesday, and could have a battle against 3AAAAAA champ Chattahoochee in the state quarterfinals if the teams meet.
After winning Area 1AAAAAA, Harrison will host Etowah in the first round. Hillgrove, the No. 4 seed from Area 1AAAAAA, drew Milton.
In Class A-AAAAA, the Kell girls have put themselves in contention after winning Area 2A-AAAAA. The Lady Longhorns will host Lovett on Tuesday and may have to get through Northview and McIntosh to make the state finals. Kell had already beaten Northview this season.
Kell (16-1) looks to maintain its 16 goal average in the playoffs behind scorers Leslie Ferguson and Haley Swift.
Pope (15-3) will be on the road at Starr’s Mill.
GIRLS LACROSSE FIRST-ROUND STATE PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
Etowah at Harrison
Wednesday 7:30 p.m.
Hillgrove at Milton
Wednesday 6 p.m.
Newnan at Lassiter
Walton at Kennesaw Mountain
Wednesday 6:30 p.m.
Lovett at Kell
Tuesday 6 p.m.
Pope at Starr’s Mill