This year, the Wildcats (17-2) have beaten some of the best teams from South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Tennessee. They’re the two-time defending state champions, have won nine straight area titles and earned the No. 1 seed out of Area 2-AAAA-A, routing Lambert Monday 12-4 in the first round of the playoffs.
But one rough game, a 16-9 loss to Class AAAAA’s Lassiter April 21 where the host Trojans scored eight unanswered goals to close the game, was enough to raise concerns.
“We’ve had several games that have gone like that where there was a wild swing in the score one way or the other, so we’re just trying to find a way to be consistent going into the playoffs,” Westminster coach Jay Watts said.
The team had a particularly tough week of practice afterwards as a reminder of what it takes to have as rich a history as Westminster does in Georgia’s young but growing sport. They ended the regular season with three victories, including a 20-6 decision over Sprayberry Friday marking Watts’ 250th career win as Westminster coach.
They will host either Holy Innocents' or Lakeside-Evans Friday in the quarterfinals.
“Tradition is great, but tradition also can cause people to think it wasn’t as hard as it really was to get there,” Watts said. “I think the Lassiter game was a wakeup call both for our returning seniors and some of our new players in just how hard they’re going to have to work and how excited teams are to play us when we step out on the field.”
Aside from that, Westminster is concentrating on specific in-game situations with the prospect of a three-peat in its grasp.
“What do you do if you’re up a goal with a minute left in the game?” Watts said. “What do you do if you’re down a goal with a minute left? You can never simulate game pressure in practice, but you want to come as close as possible.”
While also beating national powerhouses, Westminster’s accumulated several impressive in-state wins, including a 16-4 smothering of Class AAAAA playoff team Newnan, which entered that game March 21 averaging 13.5 goals per game, and a 17-13 bruiser over Area 2-AAAA-A runner-up Kell April 17, when attacker Eve Knapp and midfielder Kate Harris scored four goals apiece to pace the attack.
The Wildcats’ defense is surrendering less than eight goals per game, led by goalie Katie Rush and defenders Taylor Bremer, Sarah Cordle, Maggie Walker and Molly Kaplan.
Knapp and Caroline Heys combined for 15 goals in a 19-9 win over Lovett April 4 and 11 in a 16-3 win over Pope April 13, but Westminster’s drawing offensive contributions from across the board. Caroline Hardin chipped in two goals and two assists in the win over Kell, and Ansley Walker added three against Pope.