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Greenbrier boys go Pack to Pack in Regions Border Soccer Invitational

Posted: March 22, 2016 - 11:01pm
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Greenbrier coach Graeme Connolly talked about wanting to use the second annual Regions Border Classic Soccer Invitational as a way to test his boys soccer team.

He got what he wanted and more.

After Wolfpack goalkeeper Conner Washer made back-to-back saves to begin the penalty kick shootout, Mekhi Honore sealed the win with a perfectly taken shot. Honore slowly trotted to the ball, picked up enough momentum at the final moment and then beat the keeper as the Greenbrier boys won the Regions Border Classic Soccer Invitational for the second year in a row. The Wolfpack defeated Hoover (Ala.) 1-1 (4-2 penalty kicks) Saturday at Blanchard Woods Park.

“It’s a time in the season where we need to be tested,” Connolly said. “It’s not really about winning and losing, although it’s nice to win. It’s more about developing us and challenging us and seeing if we got mental toughness.”

The Wolfpack won the inaugural event a year ago, beating Greenwood 5-0. This time, Greenbrier won a thriller.

But first, the Wolfpack had to fight to get to the final match of the day. Greenbrier opened the tournament with a 1-0 victory over Science Hill (Tenn.) on Thursday before besting Westminster, 2-1, the following day. On Saturday morning, the Wolfpack defeated Walton, 1-0, to win the White Division. Greenbrier then faced Red Division winner Richmond Academy in a penalty kick shootout, with the Wolfpack advancing hours later to face a Hoover squad that opened with a 4-0 win over Atlanta International before notching a pair of 1-0 victories of Aiken and Brookwood to advance to the finals.

In the championship match, Greenbrier scored 39 seconds in on a Garrett Singletary header and also played against a 10-man Hoover side for about half an hour. The Wolfpack needed Washer’s penalty saves and a 4-for-5 showing on their own kicks to escape.

Hoover evened the game early in the second half when Alex Tover scored.

Greenbrier almost took the lead, only for one chance to go over the bar not long after a free kick. Then, in the first of two 5-minute overtime periods, Greenbrier couldn’t apply the touch needed to send in a dangerous ball that bounced close in front of the net.

Later, Washer, moments after the exciting finish, was already thinking the win boosts Greenbrier into the next part of the schedule, which includes a game against powerful McIntosh this Saturday.

“It shows we can play at the level of the top teams in the state,” Washer said about Saturday’s result. “We have McIntosh next week. It’s going to be a great game.”

The third annual Regions Border Soccer Invitational will be held March 16-18, 2017. Tournament organizers are planning to send out invitations within the next two weeks.

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