Twumasi returns to lift Berkmar to 1-0 win

LILBURN -- Kofi Twumasi is only a sophomore, but he might be the future of Gwinnett County boys soccer.

The Berkmar striker/midfielder spent the last three weeks attending the Manchester United Academy, playing games in England and Portugal.

Twumasi came back to the U.S. on Sunday and it didn't take long to show what he learned overseas.

"To be a sophomore, he's a top-tier player," Berkmar coach Tracy Crouch said.

Twumasi scored the game's only goal on Wednesday in No. 9 ranked Berkmar's 1-0 victory over Etowah in the first round of the Class AAAAAA state playoffs.

"It felt good (to be back)," Twumasi said. "We are a family. We win as a family and lose a family."

Berkmar (12-5-1) will play North Gwinnett, who defeated South Forsyth 3-1, next Wednesday in the second round of the state playoffs.

Etowah drops to 13-6 to end the season.

"They are a solid team," Crouch said. "You don't get this far unless you're a good team. They are very aggressive and big."

Berkmar won the region title in 2011, but was knocked out in the second round of the state playoffs by eventual state champion Walton. It was the first time in 25 years that Berkmar had reached the postseason.

The program had a slight decline last year with a 5-12 record and missing the playoffs. That was all the motivation this year's group needed.

With an 11-member senior class, Berkmar returned to prominence this season. They won the Region 8 title for the second time in three years, sealing the crown with a victory over traditional power Brookwood.

"This team reminds me a lot of the 2011 team," Crouch said.

Twumasi scored the game's only goal in the 19th minute on an assist from Rocky Guerra.

"I saw Rocky go to the left and he saw me and I got lucky and scored," Twumasi said. "It was great to put it in the back of the net."

Added Crouch: "Those two guys have a brotherly bond. That was awesome to see."

Berkmar had several scoring opportunities the rest of the game, but could not capitalize. Israel Lopez scored in the 34th minute, but was called offside.

"We missed so many chances," Crouch said. "Thank goodness the defense stayed strong and one was enough."

Berkmar goalkeeper Juan Carlos Lopez got the team's sixth shutout of the season thanks to defenders Jonathan Dowis, Matheo Gallardo, Aaron Aguirre and Victor Guevara.

Juan Sierra and Jonathan Lainez provided great movement with the ball and senior Alexis Montanez directed the team.