Here are some of the top stories in girls soccer this week:
*Sorting out Region 8-AAAAAA: Top-ranked Grayson got three goals from sophomore Jennifer Westendorf and beat No. 4 Brookwood 3-0 on Monday to clinch the region championship in 8-AAAAAA. Westendorf, a Notre Dame commitment who transferred from Montgomery, Ala., at the start of the school year, has scored 35 goals this season. Brookwood bounced back two days later with a 2-1 victory against third-ranked Parkview to clinch second place in the region. Michelle Allen and Shannon Maloney got the goals for the Broncos. Parkview, the defending state champion, will enter the playoffs as a No. 3 seed and play at South Forsyth on Wednesday.
*Region championships: Centennial captured its first region championship since 2003 with a 2-1 victory against Chattahoochee in the 6-AAAAAA finale. The Knights, 8-8 overall but 6-1 in the region, got second-half goals from Alyssa Beck and Josie Watson and a strong effort in goal from Grace Broach as they rallied from an early 1-0 deficit. Centennial will open the playoffs at home against Archer at 6 p.m. Wednesday. The other six region champions in Class AAAAAA are Camden County (Region 1), Druid Hills (Region 2), East Coweta (Region 3), Harrison (Region 4), Walton (Region 5) and Peachtree Ridge (Region 7).
*Going out on top: Greater Atlanta Christian’s Troy Bendickson has announced his resignation as girls soccer coach and dean of students, effective at the end of the school year, the Norcross private school announced on Wednesday. GAC won a state championship in 2012, was runner-up in 2011 and 2013 and goes into the playoffs 14-2-1 and ranked No. 1 in Class AA. Bendickson is planning to move to Davenport, Iowa, to continue a Christian ministry begun by his father, who died in January. “He has certainly been an outstanding role model for his players in his years in the GAC girls soccer program,” athletics director Tim Vick said in a press release. “We are currently involved in an extensive search for the next great leader.” Bendickson’s record is 166-54-7 in 12 years at GAC.
*Logjam in 4-AAAAA: Starr’s Mill created a three-way tie at the top of 4-AAAAA and earned the region’s No. 1 seed on tiebreakers with a 2-0 victory against top-ranked McIntosh in the regular-season finale Tuesday. Starr’s Mill had dropped a couple of spots to No. 5 in the Class AAAAA rankings after consecutive losses to No. 2 Northgate and Walton, but the win against McIntosh left them at 9-1 in region play, tied with McIntosh and Northgate. Starr’s Mill will open the playoffs at home against Evans; defending state champion Northgate is seeded No. 2 and will play at home against Houston County; and No. 3 seed McIntosh will play at Greenbrier.
*National rankings: Grayson moved up two spots to No. 5 in the nation among spring teams in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America rankings, which were released on Tuesday. The other Georgia team in the top 20 was Harrison, which held its spot at No. 12. The Hoyas are 17-0 and have recorded 12 consecutive shutouts. Grayson is No. 2 and Harrison is No. 3 in the NSCAA’s Region II, which is made up of teams from Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina. Oak Mountain of Birmingham is No. 1 in the region and No. 2 in the nation. Other Georgia teams in the regional rankings are No. 5 Marist, No. 6 Parkview, No. 7 Brookwood, No. 9 McIntosh and No. 10 Greater Atlanta Christian.