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Collins Hill boys begin state title defense with 4-1 win

Staff Photo: John Bohn Collins Hill's Alen Maslo (17) defends West Forsyth's Ranier Lopez (10) during a Class AAAAAA first-round boys soccer game played on Wednesday.

Staff Photo: John Bohn Collins Hill's Alen Maslo (17) defends West Forsyth's Ranier Lopez (10) during a Class AAAAAA first-round boys soccer game played on Wednesday.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Collins Hill's Zach Lane (15) defends West Forsyth's JT Kieffer (15) during a Class AAAAAA first-round boys soccer game played on Wednesday.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Collins Hill's Andrew Olortegui (7) kicks the ball against West Forsyth during a Class AAAAAA first-round boys soccer game played on Wednesday. At rear is West Forsyth's Fabian Mata (14).

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Collins Hill's Paul Ille (9) gains control of the ball against West Forsyth during a Class AAAAAA first-round boys soccer game played on Wednesday.

SUWANEE --Collins Hill may have a new head boys soccer coach, but it has the same high expectations of a program that has reached the last five state championship games.

That past experience, including a state title last season, showed Wednesday night as the seventh-ranked Eagles steamrolled unranked West Forsyth in the first half of a 4-1 victory in the first round of the Class AAAAAA playoffs. They will host Central Gwinnett next Wednesday in the second round.

"We really came out with a lot of intensity, a lot of poise," said first-year Eagle head coach Michael Burrell, who was previously the head coach at Dacula. "That really put them on their heels. We've got some very dynamic attackers. These guys have a lot of experience. They've been through so many state championship runs. They know what it's about at this level."

Collins Hill (14-5) showed its offensive diversity with its four first-half goals --seven different players had a goal or an assist among those four scores.

It took nine minutes for the Region 7-AAAAAA champions to go up 1-0 when Alen Maslo sent in a header off Eli Carrasco's cross. Less than four minutes later, Juan Ruiz made a nice cross that Paul Ille ran onto for a header past West Forsyth goalkeeper Bryce Billington. It was Ille's team-leading 24th goal of the season.

The third goal, in the 27th minute, was a beautiful one. Juan Restrepo tapped a pass to Eli Carrasco, and the speedy midfielder one-touched a shot to the opposite upper 90 that left Billington helpless. It was the sixth goal of the season for Carrasco, who also has a team-best seven assists.

Andrew Olortegui scored the fourth goal with a diving header off a Zach Lane cross just before halftime.

"The work rate was spot on," Burrell said. "Everybody worked with each other. The first 35, everybody played together. It was good to see that."

Jackson Taylor, the starting goalkeeper on the Eagles' past three state finalist teams, nearly recorded the shutout, but a Collins Hill handball in the box gave Johns Creek's John Newman a PK that he converted in the 78th minute. Outside of that, Taylor wasn't tested often by West Forsyth (10-8) as Freddie Maier, Jonathan Thomas, Maslo and Restrepo made sure of that.

"Freddie in the back is a three-year starter now," Burrell said. "J.T. is a big aggressive center back and my outside backs have an extreme work rate. You can't ask for more than that on defense."