Cherokee County’s lacrosse contingent was cut in half in the first round of the Class 6A/7A state playoffs, but the Etowah and Woodstock boys, along with the Creekview girls all have something to build on after impressive first round wins.
Etowah (17-1) kept things rolling after its first area championship and won its 11th straight game with a 23-0 romp of Evans.
“Unfortunately, it wasn’t a great matchup from the start,” Etowah coach Mike Cintineo said. “There was a pretty big gap in terms of talent and ability, but our guys were ready. I think we showed that we have some more depth than maybe some people thought. They didn’t take it lightly, and I think it got us ready for the next round.”
Carson Reeder scored a game-high six goals. Zack Charitat had four goals and four assists and Ian Ballantyne stopped the only shot he faced. Hunter Coleman kept the Eagles in possession with a 70-percent winning percentage on faceoffs.
A more difficult matchup will await next week when South Forsyth visits, coming off an 18-2 win over Mountain View.
Cintineto said this is the time of year Etowah has been waiting for all season.
“We do everything with the playoffs in mind,” he said. “That’s become the expectation for us. Even now, we’re looking at it as more of a marathon than a sprint. We still have a long way to go to get to where we want. I just think that game was one more step.”
Woodstock (9-7) went on the road to get the first playoff win in program history by beating Grayson 11-6.
“It’s a good feeling,” Woodstock coach Pete Manderano said. “The boys have been working pretty hard. We’ve had a lot of buy-in this year with what we’re trying to do and what we’re trying to build toward. Those pieces are starting to fit in and give us a chance to be successful.”
Colin Gaines scored four goals, while Stefan Duckett and Christian Watson each had two goals and two assists. Kyle Capozzi had two goals and an assist.
The Wolverines controlled possession by winning 15 of 21 faceoffs, and even when Grayson did gain possession, K.J. Seymour made 19 saves to maintain the lead.
“We were loose,” Manderano said. “As a No. 4 seed, there’s not too much pressure on you. We were able to play some pretty good playoff teams in the regular season and learned from it. What helped us the most was beating Hillgrove the week before. I think it showed us we could do it and how we could do it.”
Woodstock will go on the road looking for another upset Tuesday against West Forsyth, where Manderano said the plan will be the same.
“We have to be consistent in what we do,” he said. “We’re not going to change anything. At this point in the season, we have everything in we’re going to do. We just want to be consistent with it. We have to stay even, whether we’re up by seven or down by seven.”
On the girls side, Creekview (12-7) is the final team standing after a 20-5 win over Parkview.
The Lady Grizzlies fell behind 1-0 just 29 seconds into the game, but they scored the next 10 goals to take the lead for good.
Lizette Van der Walt finished with five goals and two assists, while Rachel Wahlbom added five goals and an assist. Karina Van der Walt had four goals and an assist, and Kate Gauntlett had three goals and two assists.
“That’s been what we do this year for some reason,” Creekview coach Rachel Aiken said. “It’s like the fourth time we’ve given up a goal in the first 30 seconds of the game. We have to stop that. I thought it kind of sparked us, though. We did a good job to recover.”
Creevkiew will travel to North Paulding for the second round.
North Paulding beat Creekview 15-12 in a weather-shortened game March 8, but Aiken thinks her team has improved enough to turn the result around.
“That was a really important game for us,” she said. “We were young coming into the year and they were our first real test. I think we learned a lot about ourselves, though, and this game will show us how far we’ve come.”