Bubble Soccer Update: High School Soccer on the Horizon
One of the joys of the great sport of soccer is that no matter what time of year it is, you can always find soccer somewhere, whether it's the PDL in the summer, MLS from spring to fall, European leagues in the winter, and college in the fall. No matter where you look, you never run out of soccer to watch, and with spring fast approaching, you can add one more item to the list, as the high school soccer season is about to kick off. In Peachtree City specifically, soccer has played an integral role in the area. With the two local high schools being so close, and the success between both schools' programs, it is no wonder the rivalry is so strong.
Starr's Mill Panthers
Starr's Mill has had quite a successful run in the sport of soccer in its history. Claiming a total of 8 state championships amongst the boys and girls teams (the 2000 boy's championship team featured former MOBA head coach Jordan Davis, and the 2010 boy's championship team featured MOBA's star defensive back Salomon Lorenzano), Starr's Mill is ranked near the top in the state in overall success. The boy's varsity team, however, did not live up to that expectation in 2016. Going 10-10 overall and 8-3 in region play, head coach Mike Hanie was less than impressed by the result of the season. Starr's
Mill came out of the gates strong, going 8-3 in the first eleven matches, including a stretch where they went 6-2, however the Panthers young legs began to show as they dropped the next six matches, including a 5-2 loss at Northgate. The Panthers were able to avoid complete elimination, as they blew out Stockbridge at home, 10-0, to close the year. In the state playoffs, the Panthers carried over that confidence and won at Columbus 2-0, however they fell at Clarke Central in the second round by a score of 1-0. Coming into 2017, Coach Hanie and the rest of the boy's team look to get back into winning form and fight for a state championship once again.
The girl's varsity team's season went quite differently. Behind star player Dylan Patterson (now at Winthrop University), the girl's team went an outstanding 19-4 overall and 11-0 in the region, including a stretch of eleven straight victories. The girl's team put up record-setting numbers, as they won five matches by a score of 10-0. Heading into the playoffs as one of the best teams in the state, the Lady Panthers carried that dominance over, as they knocked off Harris County in round 1 9-0, and Heritage in round 2 4-0. Starr's Mill faced their toughest competition yet as they went to North Atlanta and stole victory 2-1 after four overtime periods. The team's storybook season came to an end, however, as they fell to Columbus 3-2 in the Final Four. Heading into the new year, the girl's team looks to build on last year and take home the title.
Starr's Mill isn't alone in Peachtree City, however, as rival McIntosh (alma mater of MOBA's star forward Omar Jarun) also has had some strong seasons as a team. The boy's varsity team had a
As hard as it may be to believe, the girl's team had even more success than the boy's team. Going an outstanding 22-2 overall and 11-1 in the region, the Lady Chiefs dominated almost every team they played. Winning their first thirteen games, including a 15-0 victory against Drew at home, the Chiefs seemed like world beaters until they lost at Starr's Mill by a score of 3-2. Despite that slip up, McIntosh did not let it faze them as they went 3-1 in their final four games heading into the playoffs. As the #2 seed, the Lady Chiefs dominated quadrant 2 as they beat LaGrange by 5, Gainesville by 1, and Cambridge by 1. In the Final Four, they knocked off Northgate 4-0, and then decisively took the national championship game from Columbus 4-0. An incredible season came to an end the way they wanted it to, and as they prepare for the new season, the reigning champs look to go for another title.
Images retrieved from Gary Peurifoy Photography