When the state soccer Elite 8 kicks off Monday around Georgia, Whitfield and Murray counties will have an elite eight of its own.
Eight local high school soccer teams have navigated two playoff wins to reach the state’s quarterfinal round.
After three local teams won state championships last season, six boys teams are still in contention for titles this year, and two teams still have a chance to become the first girls program in Whitfield and Murray counties to win a state championship.
Northwest sends girls, boys to Elite 8
Both the Northwest Whitfield girls and boys are among eight teams left in Class 4A.
The girls are making a return trip after reaching as far as the Final Four for the first time in school history last season, while the Bruins are back in the quarterfinals for the first time since winning the state championship in 2018.
Led by first-year head coach Isael Gutierrez, the Bruins took round one 10-0 over Fayette County at home before traveling to Thomasville for a 2-1 win over Thomas County Central in the second round.
Northwest hits the road again in the quarterfinals to play North Oconee in Bogart Tuesday at 6:15 p.m.
After failing to make the playoffs a season ago, North Oconee comes in at 13-6-1, having taken second place in Region 8-4A. North Oconee slipped past LaGrange 3-2 in round two.
The Lady Bruins bring a six-game shutout streak into a home game against Madison County at 5 p.m. Monday in the quarterfinals.
Madison County was the third seed in Region 8-4A, but two road wins have brought the Red Raiders to the third round. Madison County upended Druid Hills 1-0 and then knocked off Region 4 champ Perry 3-1 in the second round.
Southeast title defense marches on while Lady Raiders reach first Elite 8
The Class 4A defending champion Southeast Whitfield Raiders are no strangers to the Elite 8, but the Southeast girls have reached the state’s quarterfinals for the first time in school history.
Despite falling to the third seed in a tough Region 7-4A, the Lady Raiders have had no trouble navigating two road playoff games, shutting down Fayette County 9-1 before downing Islands 7-0 in Savannah.
Southeast is on the road again in the third round, playing at Atlanta’s Marist at 6:15 p.m. Monday.
Marist was the state’s runner-up in 2021 and arrives in the Elite 8 after two blowout playoff wins of its own, most recently a 10-0 shutout of Spalding.
The Southeast boys have been similarly dominant in the Raiders’ first two games of the playoffs, winning 10-0 over Hampton and then knocking off Cairo 7-0.
The Raiders host Region 4-4A champ West Laurens Tuesday at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
West Laurens also has two playoff shutouts, but one was a 1-0 win over Marist in the second round.
A common opponent for Southeast and West Laurens is Northwest Whitfield. The Bruins defeated West Laurens 5-0 in March. Southeast slipped past Northwest 3-2 in overtime this season.
After playoff scares, Dalton hosts undefeated Glynn
Defending Class 6A champion Dalton survived two close games in the playoffs’ first two rounds — a 3-2 overtime win over Centennial and a 2-1 win on a late goal over Lakeside-Evans — and the competition only gets tougher.
The Catamounts’ latest test is undefeated, untied Glynn Academy.
Dalton hosts the 20-0 Terrors Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Harmon Field.
Region 2-6A champ Glynn Academy won 10-0 over Lovejoy in the first round, then knocked off Osborne 1-0 in the second.
Dalton Academy continues playoff run in inaugural season
The surprise of the season is The Dalton Academy, which won Region 6-A Public in its very first season and now has advanced the the Class A Public Elite 8.
The Pumas host Claxton at Dalton Stadium Tuesday at 5 p.m.
The 15-2 Pumas have two shutout victories in the first two rounds, a 3-0 win over Barrow followed by a 9-0 thrashing of Lanier County in the second round.
Region 3-A Public champion Claxton received a bye in the first round, then downed Macon County 4-1 in the second. Claxton is 9-5 overall, but finished a perfect 8-0 in region play. The second round playoff win was Claxton’s first outside region play all season.
Defending 3A champion Coahulla Creek continues playoff march
Despite losing a load of talent from its Class 3A championship team of a year ago, the Colts still find themselves back in the Elite 8.
Coahulla Creek travels to Oakwood to play West Hall Tuesday at 6 p.m.
While Coahulla Creek gutted out a 4-2 win over Monroe Area and then a 1-0 victory on the road over Morgan County to reach the quarterfinals, West Hall opened with a 10-0 win over Salem and then knocked off Savannah Arts 3-0 in the second round.
Monroe Area is a common opponent for Coahulla Creek and West Hall. Monroe Area was shut out 6-0 by West Hall in March.
North Murray draws last year’s runner-up in Westminster
In the Class 3A Elite 8, North Murray welcomes to Chatsworth a Westminster team that was the 2021 state runner-up and winner of three of the last four state championships.
The Mountaineers host Westminster Tuesday at 7 p.m.
The Region 6-3A champion Mountaineers downed Hart County and Peach County each 2-1 to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since making a run to the state semifinals.
Westminster finished second in Region 5-3A to a Greater Atlanta Christian team that also made the Elite 8. Westminster opened the playoffs with an 8-0 win over Gilmer, then downed Southeast Bulloch 6-1. North Murray defeated Gilmer 2-1 in a February game.