Senior Will Wren already had his hat trick, scoring three first-half goals. But the Evans striker saved his best effort for Tuesday night in front of the home crowd.
In a tie game with 90 seconds remaining, Wren -- a track star off the pitch -- ran down a loose ball, stealing it from a defender, and lofted a perfect chip to the head of teammate Matt Lescantz for the winning goal in the Knights' 5-4 win over Statesboro in the first round of the Class AAAA state playoffs.
"That's what it comes down to in a state playoff game: Who wants it more? And that last goal was a great example of our kids just really wanting it," Evans coach Brian Killips said Wednesday. "Getting that goal that late in a state playoff game was a pretty amazing feeling for our entire team."
The Knights (13-5-1) found themselves in unfamiliar territory at halftime, trailing 4-3. Evans had not given up four goals in a game all season.
"That was a bit surprising, but at the same time, we didn't panic. We knew we'd have chances in the second half," Killips said.
Next up: Evans at Hardaway, Tuesday.
On upcoming opponent: "They've got one really scary player who scored 62 goals this season. To put it in perspective, the leader in this area probably has around 30," Killips said of Evan Scott, a Georgia State signee who had six goals in a first-round win over Ola.
"They're very direct -- they just get him the ball and he tries to beat defenders. He has a lot of speed and great finishing ability."
Lakeside 7, Effingham County 1 (Class AAAA First Round)
The Panthers were in control at home from the opening kick, dominating the Rebels behind a pair of goals each from seniors Justin Pitock and Steven Campbell.
After Lakeside (17-2-0) brought a 3-0 lead into halftime, the duo of Campbell and Toren Thomas proved to be too quick and too athletic for Effingham County's back line. Thomas, who scored in the first half to put his team up 2-0, continued his strong work with the ball in the second. Campbell scored both of his goals in the second half, and he finished with three assists.
"Me and Toren were just too fast for them," Campbell said after Tuesday's win.
Pitock, a fellow senior, attributed his team's success to effort plays at midfield.
"The middle of the field we really dominated. We won most of the 50-50 balls, and we were way more physical than they were."
Matt Weinstein and Matt Hutchinson also scored for the Panthers.
Next up: Thomas County Central at Lakeside, Tuesday.
On upcoming opponent: "We played them last year (in the second round of the state playoffs), and the game went into overtime. We scored three goals in overtime to win," Pitock said. "They were a good team then, and I don't think they graduated anybody. We know what to expect."
Greenbrier 7, Jenkins 0 (Class AAAAA First Round)
It took 20 minutes for Greenbrier to find the net in its opening-round game.
The stormy conditions might have had contributed.
By halftime, however, the home Wolfpack had so dominated their first-round opponent that they had more goals (3) than the War Eagles had shots on goal (0).
By the end of the game, Greenbrier (17-0-2) had taken nearly 40 shots, the number of missed scoring chances not lost on coach Chip Warren.
"We got lots of shots off, but we didn't finish real well," Warren said. "We got onto them a little at practice. It's hard to get on them when they score seven, but we had so many opportunities."
The trio of Matt Shank, Kelechi Erondu and Tyler Bryant scored two goals each, and Hunter Norton added a goal in the shutout.
A weather delay halted play with 21 minutes left in the second half, after which the starters got the rest of the night off.
Warren was succinct in his summary: "It was a real good first round for us."
Next up: East Coweta at Greenbrier, Tuesday.
On upcoming opponent: "I haven't heard a whole lot about them, but they made the semifinals last year. They made it further than we did, so we've got to respect that," Warren said. "The further you go, the more competition is going to be ramped up."
Wayne County 2, Grovetown 0 (Class AAAA First Round)
Without three starters, including captain Gabe Warner (concussion), the Warriors battled to a scoreless draw heading into halftime.
"They trusted each other, and it was a very impressive performance by our younger kids," Grovetown coach Bill Madigan said.
The Yellow Jackets scored at the beginning of the second half, and that was all they would need.
The highlight for the Warriors (9-7) was the play of goalkeeper Harrison Buredshaw, who made what his coach called several "phenomenal" saves to preserve the scoreless first 40 minutes. Buredshaw finished with 23 saves.
On the season: "The first year of the program was big for us. I challenged them, based on the players we brought in from Harlem and Greenbrier and the young kids that came in, and we set a goal of making the playoffs," Madigan said. "It was a realistic goal, and we made it. I was impressed at the way they stepped up."
Class AAAAA -- First Round
Greenbrier 9, Bradwell Institute 0
Class AAAA -- First Round
Lakeside 5, Statesboro 0
Evans 3, Effingham County 2 (penalty kicks)
Glynn Academy 7, Grovetown 0
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