State Championship Preview: Union seeks to make school history
Union County has been dubbed the Cinderella team out of Class 2A, and it’s been exciting run for the Panthers. There’s no doubt on the fit – these guys belong in the state championship. Here’s a glance at how they got here, and a peek at what they’re up against on Friday night.
HOW THEY GOT HERE
Union County started the 2019 season just 3-4, scoring as many goals (16) as it allowed. But on March 19, the Panthers took a big 3-1 win over Elbert County that set the team off. It marked the first of ten straight wins, leading up to the state title game.
In the first 7 games, the defense allowed 16 goals. In the 10-game win streak, only 8 times has a ball found the back of the net. The offense, too, has exploded, notching 31 goals in the win streak and now 47 overall on the season.
Union (13-4) went a respectable 5-2 in Region 8-AA, but earned the #4 seed going into the state tourney. That was just fine with the Panthers, who knocked off #5 Lamar County 2-1 in the first round. In the Sweet 16, the boys did it again, taking down #10 Gordon Central, 3-2 with a last second goal. In the quarterfinals against Jefferson Davis, a rare, 4-versus-4 matchup, Union cruised to a 5-0 win to reach the semifinals.
Vidalia, ranked #6 in the state, stood no chance against the Panthers, who again cruised to a 3-0 victory to reach the program’s first-ever state championship.
WHEN: Friday, May 17 // 7:30 PM
WHERE: Mercer University
MATCHUP: Union County (13-4) vs Thomasville (15-6)
The Panthers have clearly made the most of this experience, and that means momentum after taking down three top-10 ranked teams to get to this point. Think about it like this. Union hasn’t walked off the pitch in two months without doing so in victorious fashion.
Thomasville, as is the case with every state playoff game, will be the toughest challenge yet. This team has won 6 in a row coming into the title game, and are ranked #7 in the state. They have posted 11 clean sheets this season, so the defense, which has allowed just 3 goals in the last 6 games, is very stingy. The offense has produced 16 goals so far in the playoffs across 4 games.
Feature Photo by Todd Forrest