GAINESVILLE, Ga. - Class AAA No. 5-state ranked Spalding High’s run through the playoffs ended with a 4-0 loss Tuesday night against No. 3-ranked North Hall in the semifinal round of the Class AAA girls state tournament.
Spalding (14-4), which was trying to reach the state finals for the second year in a row, trailed the Trojans (17-3) by a count of 3-0 at the half.
“Health,” said ninth-year Spalding High head coach Wayne Gardner when asked what the biggest factor was in the match.
Spalding, which was already playing without Patricia-Anne Upson - its leading scorer the past four seasons - who played for six weeks on a broken foot before undergoing season-ending surgery last week, quickly found itself hurting again when sophomore Erika Strnad went out midway through the first half after injuring her ankle.
“We were compromised,” said Gardner, who was forced to move freshman Myra Fisher for the second time this season - this time from midfield to sweeper. “Myra is becoming the jack of all trades. She did an admirable job.”
In the end it wasn’t enough against a team that reached the semifinals last year before losing to Blessed Trinity 1-0. That’s the same Blessed Trinity team that defeated Spalding 1-0 in the finals last year.
The loss snapped a six match win streak for Spalding, which included victories of 6-0 at West Laurens in the opening round of the state playoffs, 3-2 at Perry in the Sweet 16 and 4-3 against Flowery Branch in the Elite 8.
North Hall, on the other hand, extended its win streak to four in a row to reach the finals for the first time in school history. They will take on No. 1-ranked St. Pius X (21-0) on Friday for the state championship.