The Decatur girls soccer team will make its second final four appearance in four years today when it takes on Homewood in the Class 6A semifinals.
The Red Raiders' 2016 run ended at the hands of John Carroll Catholic, which now plays in Class 4A-5A.
Decatur so far has a 4-1 win over Fort Payne, a 5-0 win over Albertville and a 2-1 win over Randolph in the playoffs. The Red Raiders lone girls soccer championship came in 2008.
Here is a look at Decatur’s semifinal opponent and its possible matchups in the state finals:
Decatur faced the Patriots in the second game of the season, losing 3-0 at home. However, a lot can change of the course of a season. For instance, midfielder Bonnie Frost was playing in her second ever varsity game. Now, she’s one of the more feared players on Decatur’s roster. She has five goals in Decatur’s three playoff games, including the game winner against Randolph in the quarterfinals.
So far, Homewood has scored a jaw-dropping 29 goals in three games this postseason: a 16-0 win over McAdory, a 10-0 win over Shades Valley and a 3-1 win over Gardendale. Homewood ranked No. 2 in the final Class 6A poll April 27.
Homewood’s three losses this season came to Southside Gadsden (2-0), Enterprise (3-0) and Chelsea (4-3). Homewood out-scored their opponents 37-6 in the final three weeks of the regular season.
Homewood has not lost a game since April 1. Lizzie Oliver, Claire Touliatos and Grace Ann Thomas are Homewood’s leading scorers. Like Decatur, the Patriots have a lot of players they can turn to for production.
Since Homewood likes to score, Decatur’s defense will be key. The pairing of center backs Ella Burrow and Bella Armstrong will be important. Both have played really well in the playoffs thus far. Decatur has allowed only two goals in three playoff games.
If Decatur makes it past Homewood, it has two possible opponents: Chelsea or St. Paul’s Episcopal. Chelsea was ranked No. 1 in the final poll. St. Paul’s was ranked No. 5, two spots higher than Decatur at No. 7.
Like Homewood, Chelsea has torn through the playoffs. It won its first round playoff game 10-0 over Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa. It then beat Northridge 2-0 and Opelika 9-0.
St. Paul has also not allowed a goal in the playoffs, but its road hasn’t been quite as dominant. It has a 3-0 win over Spanish Fort, a 1-0 overtime win over Daphne and a 3-0 win over Northview.
No matter who Decatur plays, it will have to score to keep up with some of these teams. Luckily for the Raiders, this year’s offense has been stronger than in the past.
Frost, Leah South, Sara Burgreen, Daniella Rodriguez and Mary Ellen Stuart have all been a part of Decatur's lethal attack.
Decatur’s semifinal game against Homewood kicks off at 9 a.m. at John Hunt Park.