The Evans High School boys soccer team set a lofty goal for the 2003 season - to storm through Region 7-AAAAA without a loss.
The Knights delivered in a big way.
Evans recorded an 11-0 rout against Douglass on Saturday at Blanchard Stadium, giving the Knights a perfect campaign in Region 7-AAAAA.
The Knights clinched the region championship last week with a win at Stephenson for the team's first region title since 1998 and a berth in the state playoffs.
After dismantling the Astros, the Knights collected their region championship trophy, then drenched Evans coach Brian Killips with an ice-cold cooler of Gatorade.
Evans wasn't the only prep soccer team from Columbia County celebrating last week. The Greenbrier Wolfpack beat Thomson to capture the Region 3-AAAA crown, the Wolfpack's first soccer title since 1998.
Hamilton's header keeps the ball away from Douglass defender Carter Coleman.
Photo by Michael Holahan
The Knights, meanwhile, have reaped the rewards of a region change this season. Evans formerly competed in Region 4-AAAAA, which featured 16 teams and an abundance of soccer talent.
Region 7-AAAAA has nine teams, and Evans quickly established itself as cream of the crop.
In Saturday's match, junior Gavin Hamilton scored the first goal of the game for Evans, sneaking a shot past Astros goalkeeper Vincent Whaley on the right side.
The second goal came minutes later when Hamilton scored with a dramatic diving header off an assist by sophomore Patrick Burke.
Hamilton led the Knights with three goals. Junior Danny Battaglia with two goals.
Juniors Stephen Goldman, Daniel Maddox, Allen Ligon and Drew Hess, along with sophomores Joey Ralph and Burke, scored one each.
Evans' goalkeepers had a pretty easy day, with Douglass managing only three shots on goal.
In contrast, the Knights had around 20 shots on goal, thanks to superior ball handling and possession of the ball for the vast majority of the match.
"When I came here two years ago I started stressing ball handling and passing," Coach Killips said. "Before then, the team took a very straightforward approach to the game."
Killips said that by stressing teamwork he believes his team has a good chance of making it far in the state playoffs.
His senior players agree.
"We're playing really well together with no one person trying to take control," Aasif Kazi said.
"Yeah, we're working really well as a team. That'll be a big strength for us in the playoffs," added fellow senior B.J. Ralph.
Evans is headed into the state playoffs after two more regular season games. If the Knights can advance in the Class AAAAA state tournament, the first three rounds will be at Blanchard Stadium.
The Lady Knights also are playoff-bound after chalking up a region win Saturday with a solid 2-0 victory over the Lady Astros. Both goals came off of penalty kicks by junior Anna Goolsby.
The Evans' girls team still has two region makeup matches left to play - one against Tri-Cities on Thursday and another against Stephenson at an unspecified date.
The Lady Knights are second in their region and will guarantee themselves a first-round playoff berth at home with victories over Tri-Cities and Stephenson.
"If we keep playing with the kind of skill we showed here today I think our chances in the playoffs are pretty good," said Evans' girls soccer coach Carter Morris.
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