The Eagles (15-1) will host a state playoff game for the first time in their short history Tuesday as the Area 2AAAAA runner-up welcomes Roswell (10-6), the No. 3 seed of Area 3AAAAA, to Eagle Stadium.
Had it not been for a one-goal loss to Lassiter during area play, Etowah would have found itself the area champion. Instead, that ended up being the Eagles’ only loss.
Etowah opened the season on the right foot with a 12-11 overtime win over defending state champion Walton, and its final area win was a 10-9 double-overtime win against Town Lake rival Woodstock last week.
Etowah’s defense, behind Sam Rubin and Griffin Sinclair and goalkeepers Matt McCarthy and Will Sheridan, has been one of the cornerstones to its success. Leading scorer Andrew King has delivered in clutch situations, providing game-winning goals against Walton and in the double-overtime win over Woodstock.
Now the Eagles will have to defend their turf against Roswell, which is seeking retribution after losing 9-5 to the Eagles during the regular season.
“We have to play our style of lacrosse,” Etowah coach Michael Tuley said. “If we play solid lacrosse, we can beat anybody. We took care of Roswell earlier in the season, and they will definitely want to get revenge and knock us out. That’s always a big motivation.”
Woodstock (6-11) also qualified for the state tournament as a No. 4 seed after bouncing back from a 1-10 start to the regular season. The Wolverines will get a test Tuesday at top-ranked Alpharetta (14-3).
Woodstock became a different team March 28, when it rallied from eight goals down to beat North Cobb, securing just its second win of the year. That sparked a five-game winning streak that vaulted the Wolverines into playoff contention.
Woodstock is young with a sophomore-heavy midfield. Dalton Clark led the attack late in the season, scoring four goals against Etowah. The performances of attacker Brock Hensen and sophomore midfielder Hunter Forbes also were crucial late in the year.
“We have to play with confidence, and, if we do, good things can happen,” Woodstock coach Josh Sailers said. “We’re a young team, and our main goal at the beginning of the year was that we wanted to bet better.”
The Etowah girls qualified for the state tournament as well, but they will have to travel to top-ranked Milton (14-4) on Wednesday. Milton’s wins this season came by an average of 13 goals, and its losses all came to out-of-state opponents.
“Everyone can have a bad day. If we walk in there, thinking we’re going to lose, what’s the point in going?” Etowah girls coach Guilherme Strougo said of facing the six-time state champion. “I know how tough Milton is, but if we go in there to win, I have confidence we will play with a lot of heart.”
Like the counterparts on the boys team, the Lady Eagles (8-8) are known for their defense and can play three different kinds of zone. Led by Catherine Prabu, Etowah will rely on the mixture of zone defenses to throw Milton off-balance.