Trojans set for playoff rematch

three frames of trojan soccer players shooting and heading the ball
Photo: Glenn Holmes

Nick Simon/Times-Georgian

It was roughly one year ago when the Carrollton High School boys' soccer team had its state championship dreams dashed by Clarkston in a 2-1 setback in the Class AAAAA final four.

Fast-forward to today and the Trojans will once again find themselves battling the Angoras with their season on the line.

The state playoff rematch is set for 7 p.m. today at Grisham Stadium when top-seeded Carrollton (18-3) welcomes in second-seeded Clarkston (17-3-1) for a sweet 16 thriller.

Trojan head coach Scott New expects an intense battle in an electric environment, one where his team will fight to protect its perfect record at home this spring.

"It's going to be a big game," New said. "We've stressed the need to defend our home turf all year and so far we haven't lost here yet. We're going to try to continue that throughout the playoffs."

Carrollton is coming off a round-one victory over Flowery Branch last Wednesday, where a pair of late goals by Marvin Gomez and Damean Dominguez lifted it to a 3-1 triumph.

New thought his team played well in its first-round match, but noted how it must do a better job capitalizing on scoring chances moving forward.

"Looking at the film, we really controlled the ball and had several chances. But we didn't finish as well as we would have liked. If we finished a little bit better, I think the game would've been more lopsided. The good news is towards the end of the game when we needed to finish and we needed the goals, we were able to score those goals," New said.

Now for the Trojans comes the familiar challenge of trying to take down a reigning state runner-up Clarkston squad which is trying to forge a path back to the AAAAA state title game.

The Angoras once again cruised through the regular season, minus a 2-1 loss to eventual Region 5-AAAAA champion Cross Keys on March 22, which dropped them down to the two seed.

"We have a good team coming in. It'll be a rematch from the final four last year and Clarkston is very good again this year," New said. "They've got a couple of players back for the playoffs who they've missed all year, so you're looking at a two seed who if they had all of their horses all season long, they'd probably be a region champion on the other side of the bracket. We're going to have our work cut out for us, for sure."

And surely the sting of falling short to Clarkston a year ago hasn't left the minds of the returning Carrollton players, who'll have an extra bit of motivation heading into tonight's contest.

The Carrollton head coach acknowledged that factor of this ballgame, but added that his team must take the same approach to this one like any other playoff battle.

"You can't hide that fact. We have to also look at it like a second-round playoff game and we have to prepare for it like any other game and we have to make sure that we don't get too high or too low," New said.

"We have to go in there and really just try to play our game, do what we do well and exploit them where we think we have a chance to exploit them. We're going to have to have a good, solid game plan and we're going to have to stick to that game plan."