The teams from Etowah came the closest, but both fell victim in a strong Area 2AAAAAA.
The boys were in an area with six teams that made the playoffs last season, and coach Michael Tuley said the numbers were simply against them.
“It’s tough not making the playoffs, but we had a good season, and we did a lot of good things,” he said. “It’s a tough area with a lot of playoff teams, so you run into that problem where you cannibalize each other.”
The Eagles finished the season 11-6, with three of those losses coming against area rivals Lassiter, Milton and Roswell. They also lost to Johns Creek and Chattahoochee — both of which are also going to the playoffs. Even their loss to Allatoona was against a playoff-bound team, albeit one in the lower classification.
“Since lacrosse has been a GHSA-sanctioned sport, you have half the state championships coming from Lassiter, Milton and Walton,” Tuley said. “There was really tough competition, and we needed a minor miracle for the possibility of making it (into the playoffs), and that just didn’t happen.”
Tuley said that when his team lost to Roswell and Walton upset Lassiter in the last week, the Eagles’ fate was sealed. Tuley hopes the areas will be realigned in the future so the power teams aren’t all lumped together.
“In the last laxpower.com ranking, we were ranked No. 9,” he said. “When you have a top-10 team not making the playoffs, it’s a little frustrating.”
Tuley expects the area to produce at least three of the final four teams for the state championship.
Tuley, who has coached at Etowah for the last three seasons, won’t be returning next season. After helping develop and junior varsity and youth programs, he said it’s time to turn it over to someone who has played the game and has a greater passion for lacrosse.
“I feel like I built the program up to where it needs to be,” Tuley said. “I want someone to take what we built and take it to the next level and sustain it for a long time. We were able to do a lot in the last three seasons.”
The Etowah girls finished the season a program-best 13-5, but four of those losses came against area opponents. Each of those teams — Milton, Walton, Lassiter and Roswell — reached the playoffs.