With two losses Wednesday in the Elite Eight, the prep soccer season officially came to an end for a pair of Floyd County boys teams.
Rome High and Pepperell both led at halftime in their road matches in their respective classes quarterfinals of the GHSA state soccer playoffs but fell to late-game comebacks by their opponents.
The Wolves fell to Whitewater 5-4 on penalty kicks after a scoreless overtime period in Fayetteville. The Wildcats tied the game 2-2 in the 75th minute to stay alive and eventually won to move on to the Final Four.
Rome head coach Luis Goya said he wasn’t disappointed with the outcome of the game because his team gave everything they had.
“I’m super excited because they gave 100 percent,” Goya said. “They left everything on the field for those 95 minutes. We got to the quarterfinals, so this was a good year. I’m happy, and as a coach I’m proud.”
Seniors Eduardo Zavala and Rahdrig Turner scored goals in their last game for the Wolves, who came into the playoffs ranked 10th in Class 5A by EuroSportsScoreboard.com.
The Wolves (15-5) took a 1-0 lead in the 14th minute on a goal from Zavala and carried the lead into halftime. The Wildcats tied it up 1-1 in the 46th minute, but the Wolves quickly responded with a goal from Turner for a 2-1 lead.
Rome's postseason push saw the Wolves upset two higher-seeded teams in the first rounds of the playoffs after being seeded fourth in Region 7-5A.
Whitewater (14-3-4) will now face McIntosh, which is ranked No. 4 in the state. The Chiefs defeated Region 7-5A champion Carrollton 3-2 in the Elite Eight on Tuesday in a comeback win.
Pepperell, meanwhile, battled Vidalia in the central Georgia town in the Class AA Elite Eight and lost 4-1 to close out its season.
The Dragons, ranked No. 2 in Class AA, breezed through the opening rounds of the playoffs before coming up against Vidalia, winning in the opening round against Therrell and topping Region 8-AA champion Social Circle in the Sweet 16.
Pepperell (16-3-1) went up 1-0 Wednesday when Lane Koch scored a goal in the 35th minute. Pepperell goalkeeper Andrew Wilder kept Vidalia out of the net for most of the game until the Indians scored two goals within a minute with less than 10 minutes left in regulation.
“The game flow was where we wanted it, but it just kind of unraveled at the end,” Pepperell head coach Jacob Camp said. “We had a couple of breakaways that we didn’t finish, but I can’t fault our efforts. We just ran out of gas at the end.”
The Dragons’ season wasn’t short on accomplishments. The team had won 13 straight contests coming into Wednesday’s match while outscoring opponents 53-5 during that stretch. The Dragons won at Gordon Central for the first time in program history, and the team racked up 12 shutouts on the season.
Camp said his team made an impression on him with their abilities on the field, but also in every day life.
“They’ve shown me they’ll go on to the next level of life and be contributing members of society,” Camp said.
Vidalia (17-3), ranked No. 6, takes a 10-game winning streak into next week’s Final Four and will host fourth-seeded Union County on Tuesday.