Greenbrier High School boys soccer head coach Graeme Connolly was hoping his team would make a statement with their game against Evans Wednesday night.
That they did, scoring twice in the first 8:10 of play, going on to the 5-1 win.
“We knew today was a potential banana skin,” said Connolly. “Evans needed the win tonight but we were able to match their intensity.”
The win ran the Wolfpack’s record to 5-1 and a perfect 4-0 in Region 2A-AAAAA, clinching the subregion title and a No. 1 seed in the region tournament in the process.
Bryan Thompson got the Wolfpack started right out of the gate, scoring at the 36:27 mark. He took a pass from Scott Ball, drove to within 10 yards and froze Evans goalkeeper Luca Castresana before firing the ball into the lower left corner.
Castresana would make a diving save of a Thompson blast minutes later, but the Knights couldn’t clear the rebound and Logan Tihey was there to stick it home.
“Those two goals early totally changed our game plan,” said Evans head coach Brian Killips.
By halftime the score was 3-0 courtesy of Tihey rushing down the left sideline, turning the corner and crossing it to Daniel Dickerson in front who put it in for a goal at 14:35.
In previous games, Connolly thought they might have created more chances but couldn’t score, but liked the way they closed out attacks.
“Today we put away half of the chances we created,” Connolly said.
In the second half, Wolfpack sophomore Mekhi Honore came off the bench to score twice. In the middle of a scrum after a throw-in, the 6-foot-4 inch Honore footed the ball into the net with 28:54 to play. With six 1/2 minutes to play, the Knights defense couldn’t clear the ball by Honore who punched the ball into the right corner of the net.
“I get on the field and try my best and it comes to me sometimes,” said Honore.
With 1:13 to play, Evans’ (4-3, 2-2) Nolan Boulineau got the ball just before midfield, worked his way downfield and fired a rocket to the right corner of the goal to prevent the shutout.
In the first game of the night, Evans High School goalkeeper Jasmine Cole stoned Greenbrier on its first point-blank shot of the game, but Kelly Azbell made sure that didn’t happen on the second attempt.
Taking a ball thrown in at midfield by Raven Rose and headed into the clear by Ashton Bowles, Azbell got within 10 yards, faked right and found the lower left corner of the net with just over nine minutes elapsed.
That would be all the Lady Wolfpack (4-1, 4-0 Region 2-AAAAA) would need as they went on to the 2-0 win.
Azbell’s second goal wasn’t nearly as hard. With 15:11 left in the game, Alison Tribble chipped the ball ahead and after Cole and a defenseman collided, Azbell was left with a wide-open goal.
“The hardest part was not freaking out, staying calm and just passing it in,” Azbell said.
Evans head coach Kevin Musick thought his team played tough but were undone by missteps.
“We made two mistakes and they capitalized,” said Musick, whose team fell to 3-4, 1-3. “We kept pressure on them but we have to finish.”
The win sets up a match on Tuesday with Lakeside to decide the subregion title. With a previous 3-1 win, Greenbrier has the decided advantage going in.
“Lakeside is the biggest game right there,” said Lady Wolfpack head coach Wes Kendrick.