High School Sports

Veterans looks to ride success into girls soccer playoffs

One of the most successful high school programs across all sports in Middle Georgia has been the Veterans girls soccer team.

The Warhawks (17-0-3) are undefeated in GHSA Region 2-AAAA matches since they joined the region in 2012 and have won four straight region championships. They advanced to the Class AAAA title game a year ago and have similar aspirations this year after finishing the regular season unbeaten.

“The girls are more motivated than ever to get back to that championship,” head coach Haley Walker said. “They want to go through the state playoffs and face that challenge once again, and that’s motivation in and of itself.”

Veterans boast eight seniors on its roster that will graduate without ever having lost a region contest. That strong core of upperclassmen has provided leadership on a team with a state championship in its sights.

“They’ve been a part of this program, and the difference is that they’re pushing us one step further,” Walker said. “They’re ready to face their opponent every game, and those seniors have really stepped up to carry this team on their back.”

One of those seniors, forward Khayla Owens, who has signed with the Georgia Southwestern basketball program, leads the Warhawks with 12 goals. She is an imposing presence at the forward position, and her physical style of play presents a tough matchup for any defense.

“She brings a quiet confidence to this team,” Walker said. “She’s actually more vocal on the basketball court, but she leads by example. Her work ethic on and off the field is great, and she just runs with every challenge placed in front of her.”

Even with the goal-scoring prowess of Owens up top, defense is where Veterans demonstrates its dominance shows the most. The Warhawks have recorded 17 shutouts in 20 matches and surrendered just five goals against all season. Houston County was the only opponent to manage more than a single goal in a match.

“We’ve been working a lot this year on defensive shape and keeping our defensive shape,” Walker said. “We have been able to master, or close to it, defending as a team. We’ve focused on that this season, and it has really paid off.

Veterans will open the playoffs at 6 p.m. on Tuesday against Bainbridge. The Bearcats are the No. 4 seed out of Region 1-AAAA.