Recognize Greater Atlanta

Updated: February 17, 2009, 12:23 PM ET
ESPNRISE.com

Boys' Soccer - Walton


When Walton battled Harrison in the second round of the Class AAAAA playoffs last season, head coach Bucky Boozer had no idea what to expect from his team. The Raiders were playing without All-American midfielder Connor Barbaree, a senior who injured his hamstring just before the playoffs. Walton uncharacteristically made several mistakes and played to a 1-1 tie until a late goal thrust the Raiders to victory. "Once we won that one we felt we had a chance,"Boozer says. Walton did not allow another goal until the finals and went on to secure its fifth state title with a 2-1 win over Collins Hill. This spring, Walton will be more prepared to take the field minus Barbaree, who now stars at Clemson, and midfielder Taylor White, who is at Kentucky. "We kind of start from scratch each year'" says Boozer. "You just take what you got and try to find a system that works for them."This year's team should remain in contention with seniors Andrew Natalino and Ben Myatt. At center back, Natalino is an instinctive defender who has seen playing time on varsity since his sophomore season. Myatt is a clutch performer who will split time in net with senior Taylor Sulmonetti. Seniors Jin Woo Seo and Zach Hunter will attempt to step in and fill the voids left by Barbaree and White in the middle. Walton will also benefit from an experienced contingent of underclassmen and the winning mentality Boozer has cultivated in his 25 years with the team.



Girls' Track - Collins Hill


With junior Nicky Akande and senior Amanda Winslow in the fold, the Eagles could be poised to add another Class AAAAA trophy to the mantel this spring. Last year, Akande was the state champ in the 800, while Winslow captured titles in both the 1,600 and the 3,200 to help the Eagles win their third consecutive state crown. Also returning is sophomore Sydney Williams and senior Symone Glover, who both helped the Eagles place second in the 4x400 relay at state.



Baseball - Cartersville


The defending Class AAA champs will always be in the mix as long as All-American Donavan Tate is patrolling the field. Regarded as one of the top senior prospects in the country, Tate led Cartersville to a 29-8 mark in 2008. Not to be overlooked is senior shortstop Ben Bridges, who clocked a two-run dinger in the title-clinching game last year. The Purple Hurricanes have been regulars in the winner's circle this decade, winning four crowns since 2001 under coach Stuart Chester.



Girls' Lacrosse - Lassiter


With the return of seniors Hannah Buchanan and Lauren Zinnershine, both of whom were named to the All-State second team and earned All-Northwest team honors from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Lassiter could be ready to make a run at four-time defending champ Milton this year. Zinnershine was sparkling on offense, notching 39 goals and 12 assists last year, and Buchanan is the team's top defender. Sophomore Hannah Sullivan finished the year with 42 goals and 14 assists.



BREAKOUT TEAMS


GIRLS' SOCCER  BLESSED TRINITY
Led by junior forward Christina Kyker, the Lady Titans seek their fifth Class AAA title.

BASEBALL  ETOWAH
Auburn-bound southpaw Patrick Merkling had a 1.86 ERA with 76 K's for the Eagles last spring.

GIRLS' LACROSSE  KENNESAW MOUNTAIN
Seniors Ariel McGaffey and Sarah Minick combined for 87 goals and 24 assists in 2008.

BOYS' TRACK  TUCKER
The Class AAAA runners-up were a point shy of winning the state title last year.