No. 1 Trojans bust Broncos

Photo by Brandon Brigman

Photo by Brandon Brigman

MARIETTA -- After a hard-fought first half in its second-round Class AAAAA state playoff match, Brookwood's boys soccer team found out how quickly Lassiter can strike in the second.

Drake Dinnan's goal less than a minute into the final frame gave the nationally ranked Trojans a lead they would never relinquish as Lassiter poured it on late for a 3-0 victory Wednesday night at chilly Frank Fillmann Stadium.

But the thoughts of coach Danny Klinect and the Broncos (14-5) weren't on the loss following the game as much as it was teammate Pete Nkengasong.

The senior midfielder limped off the field with an apparent knee injury late in the first half, but also hit his head on the artificial turf and passed out on the sideline just before halftime.

He was transported to an area hospital, where his condition was unknown as of press time.

"To me, the game doesn't mean as much because I've got a kid in the hospital," Klinect said. "After I found out about that, it puts things in perspective. ... It was a bit of a distraction."

A distraction that no team needs, especially against a Lassiter (18-0-1) team ranked No. 1 in the state and as high as No. 2 nationally by ESPN Rise.

And it took just 34 seconds into the second half for the Trojans to break up a scoreless game.

Bennett Eldredge came up with a turnover and slipped a low cross from the left wing through a maze of Brookwood defenders into the top of the penalty area.

That's where Dinnan settled it and sent a hard shot that sailed inside the near post to give the Trojans a 1-0 lead with 39:26 to play.

"We played toe-to-toe with the best team in the state, in my opinion, (in the first half) and we just made a mistake," Klinect said. "We just failed to clear the ball, and ... good teams take advantage of mistakes, and that's what (Lassiter) did. Give them credit. But we had a couple good looks."

Indeed, Brookwood nearly came up with a quick answer just over three minutes later as careless passing led to a turnover deep in Lassiter territory that Adrian Alabi managed to get a foot on.

But the shot sailed harmlessly over the crossbar, and the Broncos still trailed by a goal.

Given the reprieve, Lassiter came up with the backbreaking goal in the 63rd minute.

Shaban Abousaud slipped a slick through ball to the 18-yard mark where Brandon Barbero handled it, dribbled a step to his right and fired across his body into the lower left corner of the net to extend the Trojans' lead to 2-0 with 17:12 remaining.

"We always talk about getting the nail in the coffin," Lassiter coach Billy Pritz said. "It just relieves all the pressure, and the guys can really start playing and knock the ball around and keep getting good scoring chances."

With Brookwood pulled up to try and generate offense, Barbero got behind the defense and stayed onside to receive a long wing-to-wing cross from William Robinson on the right side and dribble in for an insurance goal that made the score 3-0 with 7:36 left.

The Broncos packed their defense in the early stages of the first half, but Lassiter still managed to get some prime scoring opportunities, especially off set pieces.

Dinnan got a clear path to Barbero's corner kick from the left wing just over three minutes after the opening kickoff, but headed it just over the crossbar and off the crossbar of the football goalpost behind it.

Eventually, Brookwood began to push forward more often and generated a few scoring chances of its own.

The best came when Alabi sent a nifty back pass to set up a blast from Chase Varhol from the top of the penalty arc 23 yards out in the game's 11th minute.

But the shot slipped wide of the near post, keeping the game scoreless.

And it stayed that way at intermission thanks to an aggressive play by Broncos goalkeeper Jonathan Brown in the final minute of the first half.

Robinson gained possession after a long run down the right wing and beat his defender to dribble into the penalty area.

But Brown came off his line and slid to smother the ball for one of his four saves on the night and keep Robinson from getting a shot off and keep the game deadlocked.