By Doug Gorman
The Walker School from Marietta came into the Class AA/A state boys soccer playoff at Union Grove with a No.-1-ranking.
The left with their ranking in tact, but not before finding themselves in an 80-minute dogfight against a Union Grove team determined to pull off the upset.
In a battle between two teams called Wolverines, each school scored a goal in the first half, and Walker tallied one in the final 40-minutes en route to the 2-1 win.
With the victory, Walker advances to the Class AA/A Final Four.
Walker improves to 20-1-1. Union Grove closes out its season with a 15-3-2 record.
The game was played at a physical level, something that didn't surprise Union Grove head coach Mark Matthews.
"I think once you get to this level it's going to be physical," said Matthews. "Teams bang on each other and they have enough skill and that's the way they have to play."
Walker missed a couple of scoring chances early in the game, but struck for the first goal of the game at the 17:17 mark when Chase Nickensen scored on a goal from Nick Shultz.
Walker's momentum didn't last long. Nearly four minutes later, Union Grove tied the game when Christian Dane drilled a high arcing shoot into the upper portion of the goal with 13:05 remaining in the first half.
Daniel LeCates and Konard Darling had scoring chances for Union Grove in the second half, but their shots missed the mark.
Walker, which didn't have many scoring chances in the second half, made the most of their rare scoring opportunities with about eight minutes remaining in the game when Jason Andrews scored the only goal of the second half.
Despite the loss, Matthews is excited about the future of his soccer team.
"We have a group coming back that will have four years of varsity experience, so I feel really good about next year," said Matthews.