Ava Wheatley

Ava Wheatley and the Guntersville Lady Wildcats moved on the quarterfinals of the state playoffs. They took on Westbrook last night for a chance to play in the Final 4.

After two impressive wins, the Guntersville Lady Wildcats moved on to the third round of the AHSAA soccer playoffs.

Last Saturday, Guntersville took on Oneonta in the first round and won 5-1. The Lady Wildcats then traveled to Jacksonville this past Tuesday and won 4-0.

Last night (Friday), Guntersville hosted Westbrook Christian for a chance to move on the Final 4 in Huntsville next week.

Against Oneonta, the Lady Wildcats scored two quick goals before Oneonta answered with a goal of its own. However, Guntersville answered almost immediately and built a comfortable 3-1 lead going into halftime.

Guntersville would score two more goals in the second half to wrap it up and move on the second round. Sarah Wright had four of Guntersville’s five goals and Jennifer Jordan had one goal.

“The weather was looking really bad Saturday but thankfully we were able to get the game in,” Guntersville head coach Mike Jones said. “The girls were coming off one week of COVID quarantine with no practice. They had a lot of bottled-up energy and emotions and it showed.”

Jones also praised defenders Ava Wheatley, Ansley Keller, Hannah Burwick and goal keeper Emma Stanley for solid defensive performances against Oneonta.

Wright led the way again against Jacksonville with three of the team’s four goals. Lainie Willis scored the fourth goal while Ally Mayo and Marry Harris each had one assist.

“We really played as I had hoped we would start playing; aggressive, winning balls, serving balls, defending with shape, physical and mental toughness,” Jones said. “I feel like everyone’s game has elevated since we got into the playoffs. We were very inexperienced coming into the season but everyone had learned their roles and is playing them well.”

Westbrook is 11-3-1 overall. Going into the game against Westbrook, Guntersville was the only Class 4A/5A public school left standing. Westbrook knocked off Lincoln this past Tuesday 3-1.

“Westbrook is a school with a very strong soccer program,” Jones said. “Making a Final 4 appearance will be a huge accomplishment for this young group. In 2016, we went into the Final 4 with three strong seniors and a very young team, similar to this team, and won a state title. The opportunity is there for this team.”

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