GHSA Boys Soccer
Indians, Cougars advance to Elite 8; Vikings' season ends
by Chris Goltermann
Successful soccer teams need to work as a cohesive unit, enough that 11 players share the same mind.
And at times, the same last name.
Campbell had no answer for East Coweta’s Antley twins during Wednesday’s second-round Class AAAAAA soccer playoff game at Garland Shoemake Stadium. The brothers combined for four goals, including three straight to overcome a one-goal deficit, as the Indians advanced to the Elite 8 with a 4-2 win over the Spartans.
The win continued an undefeated season for No. 2 state-ranked East Coweta (18-0-1) after shutting down Campbell (13-6), the No. 2 seed out of Area 4-AAAAAA, for the final 65 minutes.
The Indians were joined in the Class AAAAAA quarterfinals by Newnan following a 3-2 overtime victory over Area 1-AAAAAA champion Lowdnes.
In Class AAAAA, Northgate’s Cinderella run came to an end in a 2-0 loss to unbeaten and second-ranked Houston County. The Vikings had several chances to get on the scoreboard but were denied by Bears junior keeper Bryce Dawson while ending the season with a 9-7 record.
On the road in south Georgia, the Cougars jumped out to a two-goal lead on a pair of tallies from Connor Cox before senior striker Nick Pelerose swooped in off a breakaway with the game-winner with three minutes left in overtime. Cox scored on a penalty kick and another blast inside the 18-yard box.
With the win, Newnan advances to play 7-AAAAAA champion Collins Hill (15-5) on the road in Saturday’s quarterfinals after the Eagles advanced with a 3-1 victory over Central Gwinnett.
The Indians, meanwhile, will host No. 5-ranked Lambert (17-3), which finished behind Collins Hill in the 7-AAAAAA standings, following another impressive offensive performance by the Brothers Antley.
Identical in more than just looks and told apart by only their numbers (Ian 7; Conner 10) and their shoe color (Ian orange; Conner yellow), the Antleys were again double trouble playing up front for the Indians while equally responsible for Wednesday’s scoring efforts.
Ian finished a three-goal performance with an insurance goal just nine minutes into the second half off a flick from his brother. But the Indians were forced to battle after starting the second half with a slim 3-2 advantage and caught a break when Jerren Dixon’s shot from the right wing went wide of the left post in the opening minutes.
Indians senior keeper Luke Oesterle, however, held strong in net the rest of the way after being at the mercy of Spartan players over a 10 minute span. Campbell recorded consecutive tallied in the first half, 10 minutes apart, on Monico Hernandez’s rebound header and Dixon’s breakout for a 2-1 Spartan lead.
A back line of Ryan Wright, Josh Richardson, Austin Slaton and Brandon Baksh gave up just one solid look on goal in the final 35 minutes. It came on a long shot that Oesterle easily tucked into his chest.
In a chippy game with all the intensity expected from teams battling to reach this year’s state quarterfinals, East Coweta quickly responded from a 2-1 deficit behind, who else? The Antleys.
After Ian, off an assist from Todd Davis, and Conner swapped tallies to open the game in the sixth and 21st minute of play, the brothers combined again to give the Indians a lead for good in the 29th minute.
With his back to the goal after having a run into the box cut short, Conner made a pass directly to his left into open space where Ian caught up to blast a shot past Campbell keeper Julio Tellez.
The duo then helped put the game away in the 49th minute after East Coweta was called for two of its four yellow cards in the second half. Battling back deep inside Campbell’s box, Conner touched a ball right to his brothers’ feet for an easy touch to make it 4-2.