Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Berkmar's rising junior, Kofi Twumasi has been selected as the Daily Post's boys soccer player of the year.
Berkmar's boys soccer team was too talented for what happened in 2012.
A 5-12 record. Only two region wins. No playoffs.
Those weren't the expectations of high school soccer for Kofi Twumasi, whose four older siblings also attended the Lilburn school. He watched his three older brothers play for the Patriots, including current Clayton State defender Kwadjo, who earned a 2011 region championship with a Berkmar team that won 15 games.
Twumasi and his teammates made it their mission to turn things around this spring. They did that and much more.
The Patriots were the surprise of the high school soccer season, winning the Class AAAAAA state title, just the third state championship in any sport in school history.
"I feel really good about (winning state)," said Twumasi, the Daily Post's boys soccer player of the year. "It's a huge accomplishment for our school, our first time winning a state championship (in soccer). It was all of our dreams to win and we all played hard. We all wanted one goal.
"I think we surprised a lot of people. We were underrated. Nobody thought we could do it, but we knew we could do it if we played as a team."
One of the biggest parts of that team was Twumasi, a fast and strong player who filled striker and center midfield roles for the Patriots. He commanded a lot of attention from opposing defenses, but still finished with 16 goals and four assists.
The sophomore's best play came in the postseason, when he had six goals and three assists in five games.
"(Twumasi) is a very dynamic player and he's certainly a kid we looked to quite a bit this season," Berkmar boys coach Tracy Crouch said. "He's so talented on the ball, but he's so unselfish. He's strong enough to beat two or three defenders by himself, but he's smart enough to know make the unselfish play. I can't tell you how many times this year he made unselfish runs off the ball, knowing the ball wasn't coming to him, just to open things up for someone else."
When it came to playoff soccer, though, Twumasi did quite a bit himself.
He scored twice in a 6-1 win over North Cobb, but was even more important in Berkmar's closer, postseason victories. In the other four wins, all tight matches, Twumasi had a part in all seven Patriot goals.
He scored the only goal in a first-round victory over Etowah, had a goal and an assist in a 2-0 win vs. North Gwinnett and tallied a goal and an assist for both regulation goals vs. East Coweta in a Final Four game, won by the Patriots on penalty kicks.
In the state championship match at Kennesaw State, he finished up with a goal and an assist in a 2-0 victory over defending state champion Collins Hill.
"He's a coach's player," Crouch said. "He's one of those kids, as talented as he is, he's not cocky. No offhanded comments. No trash talk. He just lets his play do the talking. And it speaks volumes."
Crouch said his players looked to Twumasi for leadership early on, voting the 10th-grader as one of three team captains this year. The coach said he and others set the tone with heavy offseason conditioning, and it paid off with last month's state championship.
"I feel like this year we were closer to each other (than the 2012 team)," Twumasi said. "No matter what, we did everything together. We were brothers."
The Berkmar success was even more special for Twumasi because he's hardly a newcomer to the district. Born in Ghana, he moved to the U.S. as a 1-year-old. He went to feeder schools Benefield Elementary and Sweetwater Middle before high school, sitting in the stands and waiting his turn with the Patriots.
He played his early soccer for the Alianza Soccer Club, then joined the Gwinnett Soccer Association, where he currently plays. But his talents already have taken him outside of the states, including a tryout with Manchester City's youth academy team --a trip that forced him to miss Berkmar games vs. Grayson and Glynn Academy.
Overseas opportunities could arise in the future, but as of now Twumasi plans to play high school soccer at Berkmar in 2013.
"I hope he (plays for us)," Crouch said. "He's already had the tryout with Manchester City. Right after that he was in Portugal. It's hard to hide that kind of talent. But I had a good talk with him at the all-county banquet and as of right now he plans to play with us next year."
Twumasi and his teammates will return next season with high hopes, too.
"To get back-to-back state championships, that's our goal," he said. "We want to keep it going."