Northwest Whitfield High School’s girls soccer team made this season the best in program history.
But the Lady Bruins were unable to follow up their regular season success in the first round of the Class 4A state tournament on Tuesday, when a 4-0 loss at Atlanta’s Grady brought their good year to an end.
The Lady Bruins (11-4) had a meltdown in the second half, allowing three goals as the match and season slipped away.
“Once they got the second and third goal on us, it just looked like some people became complacent I guess,” Northwest coach Anna Stutts said.
The first goal was scored around the game’s 30th minute, Stutts said, and Region 6 No. 2 seed Grady held a 1-0 halftime lead. However, two quick goals to start the second half put Northwest in a 3-0 hole.
“We just came out flat after halftime, like a whole different team,” Stutts said.
Lady Bruins goalkeeper Gracie Holmes, who had eight shutouts this season, made 22 saves to prevent Grady’s tally from growing.
On offense, Northwest produced 10 shots on goal. Stutts said most came in the first half, when her team had chances to score the first goal.
“Their goalie was just really good,” Stutts said.
This was the Lady Bruins’ first trip to the state tournament in program history. They finished second in Sub-region 7B-4A with sweeps of area rivals Dalton and Southeast Whitfield, finished third in Region 7-4A and won a school-record 11 matches.
Just one season ago, Northwest was struggling to win games in a region that stretched as far south as suburban Atlanta. The Lady Bruins finished 4-11-1.
“We’re still proud of them because it was a great season,” Stutts said. “What will carry over (to next year) is playing together and being equal. Tonight we got a little mad at one another. ... Next year we’ll go out with everyone playing equal.”
• On the golf course, Northwest’s girls tuned up for next week’s Class 4A sectional tournament with a nine-hole victory against Heritage-Catoosa and Southeast at Nob North in Cohutta.
The Lady Bruins shot a 148 to finish ahead of the Lady Generals (158) and Lady Raiders (162), and Northwest’s Marlee Bingham carded a 9-over-par 45 to share medalist honors with Southeast’s Megan Collins (45), the Region 7-4A champion.
Dallas Coker (51) and Emilee McKinney (52) also scored for Northwest, while Hannah Dempsey (55) and Bethany Reddix (62) had the other counting rounds for Southeast.
Both Northwest and Southeast will compete at the sectional tournament Monday at Applewood Golf Course in Keysville after finishing in the top four at region. Fourteen teams will play for the remaining 11 spots in the state tournament.