Photo: Craig Cappy Brookwood's Alfredo Rivera (22) takes a shot on goal with the help of teammate Brahan Shaw (10) as Berkmar goalie Juan Carlos Lopez waits for the shot during Tuesday's game.
LILBURN -- A player who has seen very little varsity playing time came up with one of the biggest plays in Berkmar boys soccer history Tuesday night.
In just his second game since being called up from the junior varsity team, sophomore Israel Lopez delivered the game's only goal 48 seconds into the second half to help lift the Patriots to a 1-0 victory at Berkmar Stadium -- a win that proved historic on two different levels.
In the bigger picture, it secured Berkmar (9-5-1, 7-1) its second region championship in the program's history -- both in the last four years -- when combined with Parkview's win over Central Gwinnett.
But on a more personal level, it also gave the Patriots a rare win over No. 4 state-ranked Brookwood (10-3-2, 5-2).
"We have not beaten Brookwood, except one time, in the last 25 years," Berkmar coach Tracy Crouch said. "I'm just really, really proud of these guys for getting the monkey off the school's shoulders. That's been a tough tradition to have to deal with.
"I have the utmost respect for Brookwood. (Broncos coach) Danny Klinect is one of my best mates. We played college (soccer) together at Georgia State. Brookwood is always one of the standards in Gwinnett County. You know they're going to be well coached and well organized. You know it's going to be a war, and it was (Tuesday) night."
Tuesday night's game was, in fact, a very emotional and physical contest that Brookwood had the territorial advantage throughout much of the first half.
The Broncos had some quality scoring opportunities, but missed two of them wide of the net, while Berkmar goalkeeper Juan Carlos Lopez came up with big saves on Bryson Dorsey in the game's eighth minute and another on a header by Jordan Locke in the 28th minute to keep the game scoreless heading into halftime.
"It was a tale of two halves," Klinect said. "We controlled the first half, but squandered too many chances. If you want to beat a good team, (you've got to capitalize). (Berkmar) had zero shots in the first half."
But that would change in the opening minute of the second half after Crouch made an adjustment with his alignment by sending in Israel Lopez up front.
That move paid off when Rocky Guerra sent a long bouncing ball up the middle of the field that Israel Lopez ran down after gaining a step against his defender.
Brookwood goalkeeper Andy Harris came off his line to try to cut down the angle, but the Berkmar sophomore lobbed the ball over him and bounced it into the net to give the Patriots a 1-0 lead with 39:12 left to play.
"We practiced the 1-2 touch," Israel Lopez said of the play started by Guerra. "I saw the goalie coming out and the defender getting confused. So, I just said, 'Let me take the shot.'"
The goal opened up play, with both teams having opportunities to score, though Brookwood had two golden opportunities to tie the game.
Brahan Gamarra sent one shot off the crossbar with 21:10 remaining, while Dorsey would have an even better opportunity late in the game.
The Broncos senior sped ahead of his defender with the ball and fired from about 30 yards out, only to have Juan Carlos Lopez smother in to keep Berkmar in front with 6:10 remaining.
"The last save ... was a top-shelf save, no question about that," Crouch said. "That was a world-class save. When he had to have it, he had it."
As historic as the win was for Berkmar, the loss sends Brookwood into a rare situation -- fighting for their postseason lives when the Broncos host archrival Parkview on Friday night at Brookwood Community Stadium.
And Klinect says getting the crucial win will take a better effort than what he saw from his team Tuesday.
"We just didn't focus," Klinect said. "I don't get mad at my boys much, but I was not happy with the concentration. ... (The players) didn't take it seriously, and we paid the ultimate price."Brookwood girls 8, Berkmar 0Jenny Allen had a hat trick, while Francesca Ellis also scored twice as the fifth-ranked Broncos (13-3, 7-0) built a 7-0 halftime lead and cruised past the Patriots (3-10, 3-5) to remain unbeaten in region play.
Shannon Maloney, Sophie Pleger and Julia Bassell also scored a goal each for Brookwood, while goalkeepers Kristen Rivers and Shelby Middleton combined for the shutout.