West Forsyth girls win third soccer title in four years

The final day of the GHSA soccer season capped a four-day marathon where 16 state championships were awarded from Tuesday to Friday.

To see the recaps from Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, follow the links or check out the Class 7A recaps below.

Class 7A girls

West Forsyth 1(7), Buford 1(6)

Junior midfielder Gabriella Macer will go down in history as the player who won West Forsyth its third title in four seasons. Her game-winning penalty kick captured the team’s third overall championship following a 1-1 tie in regulation and two scoreless overtime periods.

West Forsyth trailed Buford 4-3 in penalty kicks and, effectively, had its back against the proverbial wall. But it wasn’t simply Macer’s penalty kick victory. Sophomore goalkeeper Adelei Utz tied the match at 4-4 and made the save against senior forward Kathleen Harvell to keep the shootout tied at 6-6 and allowed Macer’s game-winning opportunity.

“We practice penalty kicks every day at practice,” said West Forsyth coach Jason Galt. “As a coach, you generally have the top 5 people you want in PK’s. But in the battle, in the game, if two, three or four of those players play their hearts out and physically, they just can’t do it, you have to find out who can.”

After her goal in the shootout, Utz gave up the ensuing goal to senior midfielder Ella Attaway which put Buford up 5-4 but Sophia McNabb, a junior forward, answered to tie the shootout at 5-5. Senior forward Shea Owings found the top-right corner of the net to put Buford ahead 6-5.

Junior midfielder Cadence Moore tied the match at 6-6 on a low-left corner goal which narrowly moved past the keeper.

West Forsyth’s Kayleigh Hilton found the net to put the Wolverines up 1-0 at the 4:30-minute mark of the first half. Buford’s match-tying goal came from Sabrie Vargas at the 22:15-minute mark of the first half.

The teams trudged through the two overtime periods and burned energy leaving Galt with a decision to make.

He relied on his players in that decision.

“I called my two captains over — Abby Batts and Presley Freeman – and they told me and we picked the five together and worked on it. We told them who it was, they stepped up and the rest is history.”

Buford went up 1-0 in the penalty shootout on a goal from senior midfielder Abby Kilman. Buford goalie Alina Pope dove to her left for a save on a kick from West Forsyth junior forward Sophia McNabb to keep the Wolves up 1-0.

Senior forward Presley Freeman, a BYU-commit, tied the match at 1-1 through two rounds of penalty kicks. Buford took a 2-1 lead on a kick from Tampa-commit Yazzie Vargas, a senior defender. Sophomore defender Marlee Raymond tied the match 2-2 for West Forsyth.

Rhinehart-commit Addison Attaway, a senior defender, put Buford up 3-2 on a low kick into the left corner of the net. Freshman midfielder Annabelle Utz tied the match at 3-3 on a low-straight ball which fooled the goalie on the off-pace kick.

Senior midfielder Kaitlyn White gave Buford the 4-3 lead on a kick to the low-left part of the net, setting up the state championship-winning heroics from the final penalty kicks.

Buford was trying for a program-first championship while West Forsyth won titles in 2021, 2022 and this season.

“What a way to win,” Galt said. “It doesn’t get sweeter than that.”

Class 7A boys

Class 7A boys

Kennesaw Mountain 2, Campbell 0

A pair of senior midfielders will go down in history by lifting the Mustangs to victory with two second-half goals, marking the first-ever state championship for Kennesaw Mountain.

After a scoreless first half, Kaleb Dawit and Allan Aguilar found the net minutes apart and nearing the end of regulation to put the Mustangs ahead.

Dawit scored at the 25:52-minute mark to put Kennesaw up while Aguilar found the net at the 27:32-minute mark to secure the victory.  Kennesaw entered the playoffs as the No. 2 seed from Area 5 and moved past Central Gwinnett 3-2, North Gwinnett 2-1, Colquitt County 2-1 and Discovery 1-0 in the semifinals.

Campbell was trying for the program’s first state championship and defeated North Paulding 2-1, South Gwinnett 4-2, Lambert 3-2 and Archer 2-1 on the way to the finals.

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