McIntosh trips up Heritage in quarterfinals

PEACHTREE CITY - Before Saturday’s Class AAAA state quarterfinal game, Heritage coach Chad Suddeth said his team was used to playing powerhouse programs in the state playoffs. Meanwhile, McIntosh is getting used to playing in the final four. Gabby Seiler scored two goals and assisted on two others as the Class AAAA No. 2 Chiefs defeated No. 9 Heritage, 7-1 in the quarterfinals Saturday at McIntosh Stadium.

McIntosh (18-2-1), the defending Class AAAA state champions, is two wins away from another title and will play in its third consecutive state final four and fourth in the last six seasons next weekend. Heritage, which finished tied for the most wins in school history, was in the state quarterfinals for the first time since 2001 and finished the year 16-4-1.

"Very proud we made it this far," said Heritage coach Chad Suddeth. "Best season in Heritage history in the last 10, 11 years."

Heritage had some hope early in the second half when University of Florida signee Arielle Gunderson scored off a rebound to cut the deficit to 3-1. But McIntosh reasserted itself over a dominant, seven-minute stretch.

First, Jackie Roshelli scored with just over 31 minutes to play, then Seiler took over. Off a corner kick, Seiler scored on an amazing header, and two minutes later, again beat Patriots keeper Mady Carter for a 6-1 lead.

"That Gabby Seiler is the best I've seen, she is dynamic," Suddeth said. "We didn't have an answer for her. They scored a couple of goals that kind of took some life out of us. That speed of play is a lot different than we were accustomed to."

It didn’t take long for the host Chiefs to take the lead for good in the opening half. At the 33:53 mark, sophomore forward Amanda Bartholomew slipped past the Heritage defense and got a shot past Carter. Seiler had a number of chances for goals in the first 18 minutes of the game, but came up short, so the sleek junior moved into a sacrificial state of mind in the final 16 minutes of the half.

Seiler made a great crossing pass and found Jackie Gray, and Gray beat Carter to put the Chiefs up 2-0. Seiler did it again with 4:02 to play until halftime, threading the needle and finding freshman Cecily Hartman for an easy goal and a 3-0 cushion.

"I told the girls (McIntosh is) the best team we're going to see all year," Suddeth said.