The Cherokee Impact 01/02 NL Elite U19 girls team won a state championship Sunday by beating three-time defending state champion UFA Milton 00 Girls 4-3 at the South Forsyth Soccer Complex.
Isabella Gutierrez led the way for Cherokee with three goals, including one was scored from 35 yards out.
“She hit it so hard, I don’t even think the keeper could see the ball,” said Alex Pama, the interim director for Cherokee Impact. “For me, it was the goal of the year. It was an absolutely beautiful goal.”
Nicole Gomez scored the other goal for to put the game out of reach. Milton scored a goal late, but it ultimately was not enough.
This state championship is the first won by a Cherokee Impact team since 2005, and the first won by a U19 girls team, according to Pama.
Many of the younger players from the Impact programs were in attendance to support the older players and witness the championship game.
"They all came out to support the girls and witness a historic game," Pama said.
Cherokee Impact will travel to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on June 20 to compete in the Southern regional championship. If it wins that tournament, it would qualify for the United States Youth Soccer Association's championship in mid-July in Kansas.
The state championship was not the first success Cherokee Impact had found in recent years.
Last season, the team won a USYSA conference title against teams from Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina with a record of 10-1-1, before reaching the first of two straight semifinals.
The success could be sustained moving forward, as 11 players are set to return next season. Some of the eight departing players will be moving on to play for such college teams as Furman, North Georgia, Reinhardt, Southern Mississippi and Young Harris.