He’s a keeper!

Lantz powers Panthers to Final Four


Annika Pepper

Senior Michael Lantz saves an attempted goal off a penalty kick. Lantz was a big part in the 2-0 win, saving all eight shots on goal by the Indians. With this win, the Panthers have yet to be scored on in the postseason, outscoring their opponents 14-0.

Ben Barkley, Staff Writer

After a shutout victory over Woodland in the Sweet Sixteen of the GHSA AAAAA State Playoffs, the No. 1 seed Panthers traveled to Atlanta to take on the Cross Keys High School Indians, the No. 1 seed from Region 5-AAAAA. The Mill continued their streak of stellar defensive play, earning a 2-0 shutout victory.

Annika Pepper
Junior William Anong celebrates with his teammates after a goal. Anong and senior Ryan Baker were the sole scorers for the Mill in what was a defensive minded game.

On offense, junior William Anong and senior Jack Baker scored the two goals of the game for the Panthers. Defensively, senior keeper Michael Lantz stepped up, recording eight saves. Senior Blake Helms and freshman Jacobo Velez also kept the Indian offense off the scoreboard,  swarming them and preventing any chance of advancing the ball down field.

“This win was a solid team effort,” Lantz said. “I wouldn’t be able to do anything without this team.”

The Panthers got on the scoreboard quickly, as Anong snuck a shot by the Cross Keys keeper in the third minute to take a quick 1-0 lead. Both teams started to focus on defense after that, resulting in no additional goals in the first half.

Toward the end of the first half, the Indians increased their aggression and started playing a more physical game. This newfound physicality allowed them to get by the Panther defense and run some breaks down the field. However, the Mill’s defense got right back in and kept the offense at bay, keeping the score 1-0 at halftime.

“This game sends a message to the other teams that we are not easy to score on,” senior Ryan Shanahan said. “It’s a huge deal to score in the playoffs, and we’re gonna keep this up.”

This game sends a message to the other teams that we are not easy to score on.”

— senior Ryan Shanahan

Defense was still a priority for both teams to begin the second half. Lantz continued to stop any shot that came his way, including a pivotal penalty kick save midway through the half.

As for offense, Baker bicycle kicked a shot past the keeper to increase the Panther lead to 2-0 with three minutes left in the half. The Mill let the clock run down after that, giving them a 2-0 victory and a trip to the Final Four.

“[Cross Keys] threw everything at us,” head coach Mike Hanie said. “It was a super showing by the defense and a great team effort.”

On the other side of the bracket, McIntosh, the No. 2 seed from Region 3-AAAAA defeated Carrollton, the No. 1 seed from Region 7-AAAAA. Also, Whitewater, the No. 3 seed from Region 3-AAAAA, defeated Rome, the No. 4 seed in Region 7-AAAAA, in PKs to set up a region rivalry game for a trip to the state championship.

The Panthers will play at 7 p.m. on  May 14 back home in Panther Stadium against a familiar foe. The Johnson High School Knights, the No. 1 seed in Region 8-AAAAA, eliminated Starr’s Mill in the Final Four last year en route to winning the state championship.