Despite the onslaught of rain and wind at the State Finals, both the Varsity Boys and Girls soccer teams were able to persevere during their last matches of the season. The Class AAA title games were held back-to-back at McEachern High School. Both teams reached the state championship game together for the first time since 2015.
Led by head coach Tia Graves, the girls soccer team (12-4-3, 3-1) faced off against the top-seeded Westminster Wildcats (19-1, 6-0). The Spartans began the match with a strong defensive performance, holding the Wildcats to only one goal in the first half. Unfortunately, things did not break the Spartans way and they fell to Westminster 4-0.
Seniors Micah Bryant, Elle Fair, Marilee Karinshak, Elli Moraitakis, Madeline Rash, and Denver Tolson helped lead this program to back-to-back State championship appearances during their careers at GAC. They also fostered a great community within the soccer program, and have helped pave the way for the next generation of girls soccer players at GAC.
On the boys side, Head Coach Thom Jacquet led the Spartans to the state title match this year, after being eliminated in the semi-finals the previous season. This year, the Spartans (20-3, 6-0) faced the Oconee County Warriors (12-4-4, 4-1) in the state championship.
The first half was a tight contest, until the Warriors struck first with a goal at the eight minute mark. Down a goal early in the match, the Spartans were able to equalize the score thanks to a penalty-kick by senior Matthew Taylor with 3:12 left in the first half.
In the second half, Taylor was on the receiving end of a gorgeous pass from fellow senior Damola Salami, and he added his second goal of the match to make the score 2-1. The Spartans held on against multiple attacks from Oconee County, and a deflection from the goal by senior goalkeeper Parker Wagnon led to a wide open goal by Matthew Taylor.
The hat-trick by Taylor helped lead GAC to a 3-1 victory in the state championship match. This marks the sixth state title in the history of GAC Boys Soccer.