West Forsyth at Brookwood
When, where: Thursday, 6 p.m., at Brookwood Community Stadium in Snellville.
Records, rankings, seedings: West is 11-7, unranked in Class 7A and the No. 4 seed from Region 5-7A; Brookwood is 11-3-1, ranked No. 7 and the No. 1 seed from Region 7.
What to know: The returning state runners-up are done with their rollercoaster regular season, one in which the breaks in close games didn’t go their way in the same way it did last year. West lost twice to Lambert on penalty kicks and and to South on a goal in the last eight seconds. It left them with ostensibly a tougher seed than last year – but maybe not.
Yes, the Wolverines’ first-round match is formidable, against Region 7 champion Brookwood, the No. 7-ranked team in Class 7A. But if West can get by the Broncos, it has the most favorable bracket the rest of the way, with No. 10-ranked Mill Creek the toughest possible opponent in the quarterfinals. West defeated Mill Creek, 2-0, during the regular season. Plus, this is still the team with Carsen Parker, Brooke Pirkle, A.J. Needham and Kristy Jebavy that experienced what it takes to win in the state playoffs last season.
What’s next: The winner faces the Marietta-Tift County winner.
Lakeside-DeKalb at South Forsyth
When, where: Thursday, 6 p.m., at War Eagle Stadium in Cumming.
Records, rankings, seedings: Lakeside is 9-6-2, unranked in Class 7A and the No. 3 seed from Region 7-7A; South is 15-3, ranked No. 2 and the No. 2 seed from Region 5.
What to know: The War Eagles begin the state playoffs on a six-game winning streak and ranked second in Class 7A by EurosportScoreboard.com, so they have momentum and talent – lots of it, in fact. South has six Division I signees or commitments on its roster. Nikki Bario (Pittsburgh) and Jenna Vollrath (Kennesaw State) do the bulk of the scoring, with help from Meagan Postell (Georgia State) and others. Alli Norton (Kennesaw State) directs the defense with fellow senior Allyson Peppenhorst and goalkeeper Courtney O’Malley.
South is looking for its first state playoff win since 2014, when it advanced all the way to the state semifinals, but its momentum and talent gives it great optimism to make another run this season. Something to consider about South’s season: all three of its losses – to Roswell, Lambert and West Forsyth, in successive games – came by extra penalty kicks.
What’s next: The winner faces the Colquitt County-Hillgrove.
Norcross at Lambert
When, where: Thursday, 6 p.m., at The Horn in Suwanee.
Records, rankings, seedings: Norcross is 11-7, unranked in Class 7A and the No. 4 seed from Region 7; Lambert is 15-3, ranked No. 1 and the No. 1 seed from Region 5.
What to know: The Longhorns enter the state playoffs on an absolute roll. They’re won nine straight games. Seven of their last eight have been shutouts. In fact, Lambert hasn’t lost to a team from Georgia since a 4-2 loss at South Forsyth on Feb. 28, a span of 12 games. And that was without Auburn commit M.E. Craven and starting midfielder Brooke Schuyler. The last time a team from Georgia scored on Lambert was March 16. Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising, then, that the Longhorns ascended to the No. 1 ranking in Class 7A to end the regular season.
Lambert has looked the part of a team ready to make a state playoff run down the stretch. Seniors Maddie Eddleman and Jordyn Ebert and Craven know what that takes; they started on the Longhorns’ team in 2015 that finished as state runners-up. This time, they’ll need a bevy of underclassmen like Sydney Hennessey, Madison Haugen, Megan Hong, Katelyn Castelli, Ellie Prybylski and Schuyler to keep performing like that have all season.
What’s next: The winner faces the Lowndes-Kennesaw Mountain winner.