Whitewater finds Wright path to state championship


Lilly Carter

Lady Panther chases a Wildcat player down the field. The Mill spent the majority of the Final Four game chasing after Whitewater. The Wildcat offense, led by junior Madison Wright’s hat trick, continued to overpower the Panther defense throughout the game.

Jenna Sanders, Sports co-Editor

In the Final Four of the AAAAA GHSA State Playoffs, Starr’s Mill, the No. 2 seed in Region 3-AAAAA, faced Whitewater, the No. 3 seed from the same region. The Mill lost 3-0 in a game with low levels of intensity from the home team.

Lilly Carter
Head coach John Bowen talks with freshman Darby Olive on the sideline about the game. Starr’s Mill lost 3-0 at home against the Whitewater Wildcats. Earlier in the season, the Panthers defeated Whitewater 8-7 in penalty kicks, but lacked the intensity needed for a repeat victory.

Wildcat junior Madison Wright led all scoring with a hat trick. Whitewater also led the attempted goals with 10 shots on goal, while the Mill managed a meager five shots on goal.

“It’s been a long season,” senior captain Sara Biddle said. “We have had a rough couple of games. Sometimes it’s hard with a team this young to get the mentality that you want all season. We didn’t show up and play like we needed to.”

The first half began with instant offensive pushes for the Wildcats that the Lady Panthers could not keep up with. The first goal of the night was in the ninth minute as freshman keeper Zoey Stellman was pulled out of goal and the ball was passed to Wright for a clear shot from deep within the box.

Starr’s Mill seemed to fall further behind after this goal, and continued to chase the Whitewater offense. Wright scored once again from the left side of the box, sending the ball past Stellman in the 22nd minute. When the buzzer rang for halftime, the score was 2-0 and the Wildcats came off the field with just as much energy as they had on it while the Panthers continued to lack that energy.

“We were flat. We did not look ready to play,” head coach John Bowen said. “For whatever reason, we did not have the same energy that we had Friday night. From the first moment that we got on the field, it was obvious we were not going to have that.”

Whitewater continued the offensive trend in the second half, and constantly overpowered the Starr’s Mill defense. The Panthers underwent a keeper switch at the half with junior Abigail Weaver stepping in at goal. Wright scored her last goal of the night once again from the left corner in the eighth minute, sending the ball past Weaver and putting the Wildcats up 3-0.

Lilly Carter
Senior Kirsten Oates cries after the last game she will ever play as a Lady Panther. “Our talent can’t take us [to state],” Oates said. “We have to put in effort plus our talent…that will lead to success.”

“We definitely didn’t seem like we were in it to win it. It seemed like we came into the game and we just kinda stepped back,” senior Kirsten Oates said. “It was like we wanted to win, but we didn’t want to earn it. We just let them dominate.”

The rest of the half was spent where the Panthers continued to chase the Wildcats but could not keep up. The game ended with the score 3-0, leaving many Panther fans and players disappointed.

The Lady Panthers ended their season with a record of 14-5-4 overall and 5-1 in the region.

The girls’ AAAAA GHSA match for the state championship with feature the Wildcats going against the McIntosh Chiefs, the No. 1 seed from Region 3-AAAAA. When these two teams met during the regular season, McIntosh defeated Whitewater 3-0.  This time, the two teams will meet on a neutral field at Mercer University. The match is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. on May 11.