The Evans High School boys soccer team is putting its coach through a lot of stress this postseason.
Through two rounds of the Class AAAA state playoffs, the Knights have scored a game-winning goal with 90 seconds remaining and scored a game-tying goal with 35 seconds left before winning in penalty kicks.
"They've definitely put a few gray hairs on my head," coach Brian Killips said.
The penalty-kick victory came in the second round, as Evans defeated Hardaway in a game played at Columbus State University.
Hardaway's Evan Scott, who came into the game with an astounding 63 goals this season, was essentially shut down by Evans' Kristian Lopez.
With the Knights trailing 1-0 in the final few minutes, Killips decided to push up his defensive line to add extra offensive presence. The tactic worked, as Joe Rizner lofted a ball from the wing and Will Wren ran it down for the tying header with 35 seconds left.
After a pair of scoreless overtimes, Evans got shootout goals from Chris Burton, Zak Wren, Ian Rosas and Rizner. Goalkeeper Jeff Dumond saved a pair of penalty kicks to secure the win.
Lakeside 1, Thomas County Central 0
With a talented, fleet-footed front line of attackers, the last thing Lakeside boys wanted to see in its second-round match was its opponent bunker in to force a defensive game.
That's exactly what Thomas County Central did, playing only one attacker and keeping the rest of the players at midfield and on the back line.
"It was frustrating for our guys," coach Dave Morgan said. "They really cut the space down, so it was hard to get good scoring chances with so many guys back (on defense)."
Forward Toren Thomas broke through the fortified defense with 15 minutes left in the first half. As for the rest of the game, the Panthers controlled possession for the most part.
Lakeside missed a golden scoring chance on a penalty kick, but didn't need it to come away with the victory.
Despite the tight final score, Morgan said that the game never really seemed in jeopardy.
Greenbrier 4, East Coweta 2
Greenbrier won its Class AAAAA playoff opener by a dominant 7-0 margin. The second round wasn't quite that easy, but the Wolfpack were still comfortable winners.
The Wolfpack got up early, then gave up some momentum before finishing strong in a 4-2 win over East Coweta.
Greenbrier went up 3-0 early in the second half, getting a pair of goals from Reed Norton and one from freshman Michael Harris.
Up 2-0 at the half, coach Chip Warren told his team that the game's next goal would be the most pivotal. As it turns out, the statement had a mixed message.
"I guess after telling them that goal was so important, they let down a little after they scored," Warren said. "(East Coweta) scored two goals to make it 3-2."
With five minutes to go in the game, Kelechi Erondu notched the final goal, allowing the Wolfpack to breathe a sigh of relief with a more comfortable two-goal margin.
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