By Zach Shugan
JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — Things were much different the first time the Alpharetta and Chattahoochee girls lacrosse teams played each other this season.
It was early February when the two teams met for the first game of the 2021 season, and Chattahoochee got the better of Alpharetta, 14-11.
This time around, the crosstown rivals were playing on a crisp May night in the second round of the Class 6A-7A playoffs, and Chattahoochee left no doubt in the rematch. The Cougars held Alpharetta to one goal each half, winning 11-2 to advance to the Elite Eight for the first time since five consecutive trips from 2013-17.
“It’s been a long time,” Chattahoochee’s third-year head coach Ashriel West said. “This feels really good. We’ve been preparing all year for this. We were trying to get there last year, so COVID was a big hit to us. I think that was our motivation to go back this year.”
West credited much of the Cougars’ win to their defense and the effort in goal from Lilly Phillips, who finished with 12 saves.
“Our preparation was defense. That’s what wins championships. We were really prepared for what they were going to throw at us. We watched a lot of film. Our goalie played the game of her life. Definitely the player of the game in our eyes. But I think what makes this team so special is everybody is equally talented and it’s a selfless group. Nobody is in it for the stats, and that helps us win these games.”
Willow Hammond put Chattahooche on the board first with a goal three minutes into the game. Samantha Miller added a goal two minutes later, her first of three goals on the night, to give the Cougars a 2-0 lead.
“We knew Alpharetta was coming for us,” Chattahoochee captain Meaghan Trainer said. “They scouted us and they’ve been watching us, so we wanted to give them a little taste right at the beginning.”
Trainer picked up five ground balls and won four draws to help Chattahoochee win the battle of posssession. The Cougars’ leading scorer was Sophia Pomian, who scored four goals and assisted on another.
Ashley Moran scored Alpharetta’s lone goal of the first half with 16:28 remaining in the half. After that, Chattahooche held the Raiders scoreless and added four goals to take a 6-1 lead into halftime.
The second half was nearly a carbon copy of the first half, with Alpharetta scoring once off a Moran goal and Chattahoochee scoring five times.
Chattahoochee (16-4), the Area 1 champion, will travel later this week to the Area 7 champion Mill Creek (12-4) for the state quarterfinals. The Cougars and Hawks played each other in late February, and the Cougars won 11-5 at home. A second win over the Hawks, this time on the road, would put the Cougars in the Final Four against the winner of Roswell and West Forsyth.
“The bond that we have this year is unreal,” Trainer said. “We’re just excited to keep going.”
Alpharetta finished its season 12-7 overall and appeared in the Sweet 16 for the second season in a row.