It was an unforgettable ride for the girls soccer team at Habersham Central — a ride that ended with a state playoff loss at Harrison.
The Lady Raiders posted their most wins (7) since 2011, when they matched that total. The program’s state playoff berth was only the second in school history. As well documented, 5th-year head coach Melissa Carroll and the senior class have put in the time and effort over the past five years to get to where they are today.
The season began with a 6-1 exhibition win over Jackson County, as coach Carroll stated she knew then that it would be a special year. Shutout non-region wins over Stephens County and Central Gwinnett — both on the road — propelled the girls to a respectable 2-1-2 start by the end of February and heading into region play.
A loss to Lanier got the month of March and region play off to a rocky start, but the Lady Raiders quickly rebounded with a three-game win streak over Gainesville, Winder-Barrow and Dacula, who was a top-ten ranked team in the state. Gainesville avenged its earlier loss to Hab Central, but the Lady Raiders followed the loss with a 3-0 shutout over Winder.
That put the girls at 6-3-2 on the year. The four-game losing streak that followed dropped the girls in the region standings, as they fell to Apalachee twice by identical 3-1 scores before dropping a 6-0 contest to Dacula and 2-1 heartbreaker at home against Lanier. Nevertheless, the girls had secured the fourth spot in the region standings and punched a ticket to the state playoffs.
Carroll’s team used a 4-1 win over Rabun-Gap as a warmup to prepare them for the state tournament. As luck would have it, the Lady Raiders as a four-seed were slated to take on the state’s #1-ranked team out of Class 6A — Harrison. Harrison (16-3) shut out Habersham 7-0 Thursday night to close the book on the Lady Raiders, ending their season at 7-8-2 overall.
For the senior class, it was a special run that was a reward for their years of hard work. For some of those seniors, it marked the end of their soccer career, while others (Brooke Loggins – Toccoa Falls & Lindsey Lewallen – Maryville College) have been awarded the opportunity to continue playing at the next level.