Everything fell into place for Woodstock despite going 3-9-3 with a 2-4 record in Region 5AAAAA play. It wasn’t without some uncertainty, though.
There was a three-way tie for the region’s final postseason berth, between Woodstock, archrival Etowah and Marietta. The Wolverines, however, were the ones who came out on the winning end of a tiebreaker based on goal differential.
Each of the three teams beat one another, ruling out head-to-head records as a tiebreaker, and they each allowed five goals against one another, ruling out goals-against. It then came down to goal differential, and Woodstock owned a plus-2 advantage based on its 4-1 win over Marietta.
“It’s the first time in school history that we made the state playoffs,” Woodstock coach Stephen Schroter said. “I find it funny. I told them, ‘I don’t care if we go 3-13, as long as the three wins we had get us into state.’ I said that jokingly, but we won the games we needed to win to get into the state playoffs.”
Despite the excitement of reaching the postseason, the Wolverines now face the mountainous
task of traveling Tuesday to Region 6AAAAA champion Centennial (16-1-1), which is ranked first in the state and
third in ESPN’s national rankings.
Led by Zack McWhorter, who has 17 goals and 14 assists on the year, Woodstock plans to attack the goal against Centennial. Schroter said the Wolverines won’t stuff the back row against the Knights.
The Woodstock girls (12-3) will also play at Region 6AAAAA runner-up Centennial (12-6), traveling to Roswell for a first-round meeting Wednesday. The Lady Wolverines were on the losing end of a three-way tiebreaker for the Region 5AAAAA title with Walton and Lassiter and had to settle for the No. 3 seed.
This tiebreaker came down to goals allowed between the deadlocked teams. Woodstock allowed three, Walton and Lassiter each gave up two, and with Lassiter beating Walton, the Lady Trojans won the No. 1 seed.
Led by Georgia Southern-bound Caitlin Tongco, who has 25 goals and 11 assists, Woodstock should like its chances in the state playoffs, even if it has to play on the road.
The seventh-ranked Lady Wolverines are on a seven-game winning streak, including a 3-0 win over defending state champion Harrison late in the regular season that gave them an extra confidence going into postseason.
“I wanted to win region, but I’m proud of girls and what they have done,” Woodstock girls coach Cory Nix said. “I like where we’re at, and I like our matchup with Centennial. Let’s go play and see what happens.”
Woodstock’s Towne Lake rival, Etowah, was left with a No. 4 seed and will have to play at top-ranked Milton (17-1) in the opening round. The Lady Eagles (7-8) struggled to a six-game losing streak before closing the regular season with a 4-2 win over Creekview last Wednesday.
Unlike Etowah, the River Ridge girls are coming into the postseason off the sting of a defeat.
Unable to find the net through 90 scoreless minutes of regulation play and overtime, the Lady Knights (12-5) lost to Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe on penalty kicks in last Tuesday’s Region 7AA championship game.
After cruising through region play behind leading scorer Shannon Driscoll, River Ridge ran into adversity against Lakeview, taking multiple shots at goal that failed to succeed.
After settling for the No. 2 seed, River Ridge will host Region 8AA No. 3 Jefferson (12-2) in the first round Friday.
“It’s hard for girls when you should have won this game but you didn’t,” said River Ridge coach Sarah Goodbread, whose team reached the second round of the playoffs in 2011, its first as a varsity program. “They have to take it in stride and realize that the ball didn’t bounce our way, but hard for young girls to realize is that a lone loss doesn’t make or break the team.”
The sophomore-laden River Ridge boys (9-8) also qualified for the state playoffs, as the No. 3 seed of Region 7AA, and they will make their postseason debut Thursday at fourth-ranked East Hall (12-3), the 8AA runner-up.
After taking their lumps with an imposing non-region schedule — they were outscored 29-5 and played seven games against teams from higher classifications — the Knights found their way in region play, going 8-1 and outscoring their competition 42-16.
River Ridge will be relying mostly on Brennan Ross, who is closing in on 30 goals this season, and the strong midfield.