Carrying the banner of success perhaps highest was Adairsville, whose Lady Tigers put together the best season in their history.
The Lady Tigers tallied the most wins at 17, the fewest losses at two, the most goals scored at 79, allowed the fewest goals at seven, went undefeated on the road and recorded an astounding 13 shutouts.
Adairsville had a very balanced and potent offense that was backed up by the best defense in the region and anchored by the statistically best goalkeeper at .388 goals per match.
The Lady Tigers capped their spectacular season by finishing as the Region 5-AAA champions (13-1) and also hosted the first round state playoff match at Tiger Stadium against White County.
Against county opponents, they were 1-1, losing their first contest to Cartersville, 1-0, but winning the second match, 2-1, to claim the region title.
Also playing at a high level throughout the year was Cartersville, whose Lady Purple Hurricanes won 14 games while dropping three.
Cartersville, which finished second in Region 5-AAA with an identical 13-1 record, had similarly impressive numbers across the board, scoring 77 goals while allowing 18.
The Lady Canes also rang up seven regular season shutouts on the year and once again made it to the state playoffs, where they tallied their eighth shutout in their first round matchup to advance to the Sweet 16, where they lost to Decatur. Decatur advanced to the Final Four round of the state tournament, where it lost to eventual state champion St. Pius.
Cartersville was 2-1 against Bartow County opponents, splitting their series with Adairsville and defeating Cass, 3-2.
Cass (9-8, 5-2 in Region 7-AAAA) was the third girls soccer team in the county to make the state playoffs. It earned a No. 3 seed to the playoffs.
The Lady Colonels’ success was based on a strong offense — they scored 59 goals — and a defense that allowed 35 goals while notching seven shutouts.
The Lady Colonels lost in the first round, but the team they lost to, Alexander, went on to Final Four round of the tournament where they lost to Marist, this year’s state champion.
They were 1-1 against Bartow County opponents, defeating Woodland, 2-0, while falling to Cartersville.
Woodland (6-7, 5-5) finished .500 in Region 5-AAAAA, which always provides tough competition.
Allatoona, one of its opponents, made the Elite Eight in the state playoffs.
The Lady Wildcats appeared on their way to a playoff spot early in the season but faltered in their final three region games and dropped out of contention.
Woodland scored 41 goals while allowing 27. It earned six shutouts during the season. They lost their Bartow County matchup to Cass.
Player of the Year
Amber Litteral, Adairsville’s extraordinary goalkeeper, is The Daily Tribune News 2014 Player of the Year.
Litteral is a superb goalkeeper who recorded 13 shutouts (most in school history), while allowing only seven goals all season.
Adairsville head coach David Sexauer said Litteral’s athletic goalkeeping skills and toughness were essential to the Lady Tigers claiming the 2014 region championship and hosting their first state girls soccer playoff game.
Litteral was an active goalkeeper who darted out of goal often to cancel out offensive thrusts by opposing teams.
Opposing coaches tagged her as the keeper they would least like to see in goal if their game was being determined by PKs.
Freshman of the Year
Chloe Davis, part of an impressive delegation of freshmen who contributed to Cartersville’s offensive success this season, is The Daily Tribune News’ 2014 Freshman of the Year. The freshman forward/striker scored 14 goals and was credited with two assists. Davis made almost an immediate impact on the Lady Canes as a determined attacker who learned quickly how to find the net and open teammates. She also battled for possession and helped the Canes keep the ball in front of the opposing team’s goal.
Emily Sexauer — Adairsville
Sexauer led the record-shattering offensive attack of the Lady Tigers. The center-midfielder and team captain scored 19 goals and had 11 assists (a single season record). She was perfect on penalty kicks at seven. Mentally and physically tough, she played her most dominant soccer late in games. Coaches credited her control of the midfield and distribution of the ball throughout the year as a key to her team winning its region championship.
Haley Pittman — Adairsville
The striker was the leading scorer for the Lady Tigers and Bartow County with 22 goals. She also had 10 assists. Pittman was a fast and agile forward who crossed the ball when the opportunity presented itself, Sexauer said. She typically won the matchups on her side and scored game-winning goals all year, including finding net with her shot that decided the 2014 region championship.
Cherish Lowery — Adairsville
Lowery was her team’s No. 1 fullback, a two-year team captain and four-year starter playing forward and fullback in 72 games throughout her high school career. Aggressive and tough, she controlled the center fullback defensive zone and was a driving force that limited opponents to only seven goals all season, Sexauer said. Lowery has signed to play college soccer for Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC).
Stefanie Will — Cartersville
Will was the key to making her team’s offense run again this season, facilitating a coordinated attack that resulted in shot after shot against opponents.
The Lady Canes were able to probe opposing defenses for signs of weaknesses and then take advantage of their discovery to put most games out of reach.
Will also found the goal herself 17 times and was credited with seven assists.
Ashton Sanders — Cartersville
Sanders was another important ingredient in sparking the Lady Canes’ offensive fireworks this season. The forward/striker found the net 13 times and also tallied four assists. She was particularly aggressive in front of the net of Cartersville opponents.
Molly Acuff — Cartersville
Acuff was a big part of a Lady Cane defense that allowed less than 20 goals during the regular season and two playoff games. An aggressive defender, she didn’t just frustrate scoring forays by opponents but also contested possession of the ball with an eye toward jumpstarting a Cartersville offensive attack.
Laken Bennett — Cass
Bennett, a three-year starter for Cass, played defensive midfield and was the team’s defensive player of the year for 2014. “She did a great job for us in the midfield stopping the offensive attack,” head coach Phil Phillips said. “She was great on winning the 50/50 balls and creating the attack for our offense. Laken is one of those players who is always looking to improve and very committed to being the best player she can be.”
Rachel Jackson — Cass
Jackson, a three-year starter as goalie, recorded seven shutouts and allowed 29 goals during the regular season. She blocked 168 shots on goal. Phillips said Jackson stood tall for Cass against some of the best teams in the state in AAAA, including No. 8 Alexander, No. 10 Heritage (twice) and No. 5 River Ridge.
Jana Morning — Cass
Morning, a freshman, made a quick impact on the Cass offense through her speed and ballhandling skills. The first-year starter scored 18 goals and was credited with 10 assists, earning her designation as the offensive player of the year for Cass. “That is quite an accomplishment considering she did not start until the third game of the season,” marveled Phillips.
Mallary Hedden — Cass
Hedden, a senior, was a four-year starter on offense for Cass. She put pressure on opposing defenses every time she had possession of the ball and also was a master at setting up teammates in scoring position. Phillips said Hedden “is a player who truly loves the game and it shows in her work ethic.” She was one of the team’s leading scorers with 10 goals and also was its assist leader with 11. Hedden will continue her play at the next level, signing to play soccer with Troy University, a Division I college located in south Alabama.
Honorable Mention: Katie Lawhorn, Adairsville; Victoria Everhart, Cartersville; Payton Putzer, Cartersville; Kaitlyn Eubanks, Woodland; Alicia Velasquez, Woodland; Katelynn Harbeke, Cass; Camey Kirkland, Cass; Kelsey Wright, Cass; Madison Scoggins, Cass; Sidney Vermaas, Cass; Izzy Moraga, Cass.