Patriots clobber North Cobb 6-1 in boys state tourney

LILBURN -- Berkmar came into Saturday's soccer quarterfinal matchup with North Cobb feeling like itwould be the better team.

The Patriots just didn't know how much better they would be.

No. 3 Berkmar scored four goals in the first half, en route to a 6-1 win over the Warriors, advancing to Wednesday's semifinals where it will face East Coweta, which beat Lambert 3-2.

"North Cobb is a good team and I don't think anybody expected that score," Berkmar head coach Tracy Crouch said. "We had a lot of breaks go our way in front of their goal."

North Cobb controlled the tempo early, keeping the ball in the offensive zone for most of the first 10 minutes.

The Warriors' Malcolm Williams stole a pass deep in the zone and took a shot that went wide right just 40 seconds into the game.

However, as Berkmar began to adjust itself to the wet conditions, things started to go the Patriots' way.

After Aaron Aguirre had his header saved by the goalkeeper, Berkmar came right back as Kofi Twumasi had a steal of his own deep in North Cobb's zone. The only difference between his and Williams' shot is that Twumasi's shot hit the back of the net to give Berkmar a 1-0 lead.

"It was real slick early on and it took us some time to get our feet under us," Crouch said. "Our guys took the opportunities given to them and scored."

Berkmar found itself on the opportunistic end, with 15:27 to go in the first half, on one of its five corners in the game. Alexis Montanez blasted his corner that hit off the head of North Cobb's Vincent Holmes as the ball was redirected into the net for an own goal, giving Berkmar a 2-0 advantage.

But it didn't stop there. Rocky Guerra scored off a free kick just outside the box with 9:44 to go.

Then, 33 seconds later, a throw-in (after a Berkmar steal) went to Twumasi who blasted the ball into the back of the net for his second goal to put Berkmar up 4-0.

"I always tell my players that if they double their work, they'll double their chances," Crouch said. "I'm blessed this year because I have a good rotation of guys who work hard."

Juan Carlos Lopez had five saves in the half, keeping North Cobb off the board.

Berkmar (14-5-1) immediately got to work in the second half, getting a goal from Matheo Gallardo on a header off another corner with 36:57 to go. Seven minutes later, Victor Guevara hooked it in from the right side to give the Patriots a six-goal lead.

North Cobb added a goal 11 seconds later as Williams scrambled into the offensive zone on the kickoff, got ahold of the ball and put it past Barulio Cobarubias.

But that's all Cobarubias would allow as he made 14 saves the rest of the way, keeping North Cobb's tally at one.

"He made some impressive saves," Crouch said. "Our whole second crew did excellent. They got on the field and the level of play didn't drop. That's what you like to see."

With the win, Berkmar will host No. 2 East Coweta, which is 19-0-1 on the year, holding wins over Collins Hill and Campbell, which had previously beat the Patriots this year.