Photo by Christine Troyke
DACULA -- Tuesday's Class AAAAA boys soccer playoff game was barely five minutes old when the head referee stopped play and had a school official address the home crowd. It happened again three minutes later.
The stoppages, to address comments an official heard from the fans, didn't do much to help Dacula's slow start against defensive-minded McEachern.
But the sixth-ranked Falcons finally broke through late in the first half and gave the loud home crowd the show they wanted from one of the state's top offenses. Ado Junuzovic and Luis Huertas teamed up for two goals in a span of barely more than two minutes, sparking a 4-0 first-round win that sends Dacula into a second-round home game next Tuesday against Milton.
"We just played our game," Dacula boys coach Mike Burrell said. "Like most people know, we can score at any time. We've got four good goal scorers and a lot of people don't have that. ... It's remarkable the number of goals we can score."
Junuzovic played a part in all four goals, scoring his 39th of the season and assisting on two others. His header off the crossbar led to the fourth goal.
The talented junior got Dacula (15-3) on the board in the 26th minute, sending a through pass from midfield to set up Huertas on a breakaway. Huertas slipped a shot in and 2 minutes, 4 seconds later the tandem teamed up again.
This time Huertas made a nice run down the right flank and sent a low cross that got through to Junuzovic on the back post for the second goal.
Junuzovic threaded another pass through traffic in the 38th minute, setting up a low, hard shot from Michael Kanu, who was free on the right side. His goal made it 3-0 at halftime against McEachern, which hadn't allowed more than three goals in a game all season.
"(Junuzovic) is so talented, we get him the ball there and let him choose where to go with it," Burrell said.
The playmaker's header off the crossbar in the 56th minute led to a scramble in front of the McEachern net. Brandon Stirrup lobbed a cross to the opposite side, where Jamie Gleeson blasted a volley into the net.
Meanwhile, the Dacula defense posted a shutout despite a revamped backline that lost Berry College-bound Chris Jeanfreau to a torn ACL in the regular-season finale. Derek Jones, Jimmy Carrion, Edgar Cruz and the rotation of Cody Moore and Joey Garmon at right back held the Indians scoreless.
Goalkeeper Kris Alonzo made six saves, including two nice ones from the ground early in the second half after a scramble in the penalty box. Midfielders Gleeson, Kanu, Jeisson Giraldo and Mason Davenport also were solid in the win, Dacula's 12th straight.
"Everybody knows we've got two phenomenal forwards, but we've got two or three people behind them who can step up, make runs and finish," Burrell said.