At the end, Scott Ball was tired, Luke Dewyea was emotional and all of the Greenbrier High School Wolfpack were elated.
With 2:25 left in the Wolfpack’s quarterfinal match against Heritage, Conyers Friday night, sophomore Mekhi Honore took a perfect pass from the senior Ball and headed the ball with the back of his head past the Patriots’ goalkeeper into the net for the game-winning goal.
The 1-0 win in the Georgia High School Association Class AAAAA state boys soccer tournament advanced the Wolfpack (14-1) to the state semifinals once more; the last time coming in 2012 when they were the class AAAA state runners-up.
“It means a lot,” said junior defenseman Dewyea of returning to the semifinals. “I got really emotional after the game, I was crying. It was an awesome feeling to win.”
But after Honore’s score, time remained and the the Patriots (14-6) had the ball in the Wolfpack’s end with 55 seconds to play. Ball got control, sent a pass to Taylor Peterson, who turned it into a shot on goal and a resulting corner kick as time then ran out.
“Defensively we’re as good as anybody in the state,” said coach Graeme Connolly, whose team has registered seven shutouts while allowing more than one goal just once in 2014. “We always look at the scores on the other end, but I think we’ve been very solid defensively. We’ve got a really good karma going and we’d like to continue that for a few more games.”
The Wolfpack had some good chances in the first half and couldn’t convert, but stayed aggressive in the second half.
After the break they came out with a fury offensively, but Patriots’ goalkeeper Connor Domelski kept his team in the game with what Connolly called world-class saves, totaling 10 for the game. In the first seven minutes of the second half, he stopped Honore on a breakaway with a kick save and thwarted Logan Tihey twice, the last on what appeared to be an open net after Tihey received a pinpoint cross from the wing by Bryan Thompson. With just under 29 minutes to play, Domelski stopped Peterson in front and then was able to make another bang-bang save on Tihey’s rebound attempt.
Peterson was an offensive force all game, wreaking havoc on the Patriots’ defense.
“I thought he was immense out there, causing them all sorts of problems and probably created some space at the end for Mekhi (Honore) to run into because he was so dangerous before that,” Connolly said.
Sophomore goalkeeper Connor Washer had four saves for the Wolfpack. He stopped an in-close attempt in the first half and stymied a Patriots’ corner kick with 11:20 to play.
Continuing to press the issue, Peterson had a rebound attempt off a corner kick blocked by the Patriots’ defense with 3:45 to go, but Ball and Honore would finally not be denied.
“He (Ball) had been hitting them great all game,” said the 6-foot-4 inch Honore. “I knew if I got my head on that one it was going in.”
Ball was excited about the opportunity now in front of the team.
“It’s just the best feeling in the world,” said Ball of the win. “Ever since sophomore year–I mean we lost it (state finals)– but now it’s time to bring it back to the ‘Pack.”
Goals: Greenbrier-Mekhi Honore. Assist: Greenbrier-Scott Ball. Goalkeepers: Heritage, Conyers-Connor Domeleski (10); Greenbrier-Connor Washer (4).