GEORGIA STATE SOCCER PLAYOFFS
Tuesday, April 30
Class AAAA Girls
South Atlanta at Heritage, 5:30
Northwest Whitfield at Grady, 5:30
Wednesday, May 1
Class AAAA Boys
Southeast Whitfield at Chamblee, 4:30
Stone Mountain at Dalton, 6:30
Grady at Northwest Whitfield, 7:30
Thursday, May 2
Class AAA Girls
North Oconee at Ringgold, 6
Class AA Girls
Dade County at Westminster
Friday, May 3
Class AA Girls
Wesleyan at Calhoun, 5:30
Class AAA Boys
Sonoraville at North Oconee, 5:30
Coahulla Creek at Oconee County, 6
Franklin County at North Murray, 7
Class AAA Girls
East Jackson at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe, 6
Class AA Boys
Lovett at Murray County, 6
Wesleyan at Calhoun, 7:30
TUNNEL HILL, Ga. — The Northwest Whitfield girls' soccer team finally has cleared the hurdle of beating a red opponent. For the Lady Bruins' season to continue, they'll need at least one more such victory.
They qualified for the state playoffs for the first time in program history, and to do so they had to defeat local rivals Dalton and Southeast Whitfield, both of which have red in their school colors.
"I hope Grady isn't red," senior Paige Smyth said.
No such luck. The seventh-ranked Lady Gray Knights sport Gray and Cardinal as their school colors.
The Lady Bruins (10-3) are one of two area teams in state playoffs today, with second-ranked Heritage's girls being the other, also in Class AAAA. The fifth-ranked Northwest boys will host eighth-ranked Grady on Wednesday evening, when top-ranked Dalton and ninth-ranked Southeast Whitfield also play.
Ringgold and Dade County have girls' teams in action Thursday, and the AAA seventh-ranked North Murray boys are one of seven area teams set to play Friday. In AA, Calhoun's teams will play a doubleheader against Wesleyan and the eighth-ranked Murray County boys will host 10th-ranked Lovett.
Northwest coach Anna Stutts is not pressuring her girls at this point, convinced that they play their best when they are loose. Therefore, practices are loose and free-flowing, with a lot of scrimmaging.
"This is the first time that we've had a winning record," senior Selena Gomez said. "We knew we had some potential coming into the year, and we've tried to stay focused and not have negative thoughts like we've had before."
Northwest isn't concerned about Grady's ranking or its win-loss record (11-6). As Smyth said, "We know they're higher-ranked, but that doesn't mean anything."
Stutts agreed, having used a "prove them wrong" approach to coaching and saying her team won't be content just advancing to the playoffs.
"When we played Cass, we knew that we were going to travel whether we won or lost," Stutts said of the team's 4-0 shutout in the Region 7-AAAA consolation game. "The girls are excited about how far they've come and realize how good we can be. They've made each other better and understand that nobody thinks they're good enough to be in state.
"I'm proud of the girls no matter how far we go, but I think a part of them wants to prove that they can do more."