McIntosh, Starr's Mill and Whitewater open playoffs with victories

Tue, 04/22/2008 - 8:23pm
By: Kevin Wandra

The first round of the Class AAAA state soccer playoffs kicked off Tuesday, and one of the top contenders for the classification’s state title is the third-ranked McIntosh Chiefs.

They faced a familiar opponent in the opening round, the Baldwin Braves, a team McIntosh defeated 3-2 in the first round of last season’s playoffs.

Baldwin was seeking to avenge that loss, a game in which McIntosh scored in the final 10 seconds to pull out the victory, but it couldn’t find a way to stop Allen Stein and the rest of his teammates in McIntosh’s 4-0 victory.

“I like the way we’re playing,” McIntosh coach Bunky Colvin said. “We’re organized. Defensively, we’re playing very, very well. When we keep our shape and play and put pressure on the ball, we do a lot of good things.

“When we play like we did tonight, especially in the first half, we’re going to be hard to beat.”

McIntosh’s defense suffocated Baldwin’s offensive attack, preventing the Braves from getting off high-percentage shots and making sure goalkeeper Michael White was never seriously tested.

And the Chiefs’ offense was just as effective, continuously putting immense pressure on Baldwin’s defense. McIntosh finished with 12 shots, nine of which were on goal.

David Fratto gave McIntosh the only goal it would need in the first half, patiently dribbling the ball into the top left corner of the box and firing a precise shot that landed just inside the upper right side of the goal post with 35:14 remaining.

Ramsey Jarun and Stein combined on perhaps the prettiest play of the night to hand the Chiefs a two-goal cushion at the 28:42 mark.

Jarun perfectly bent a corner kick from the right side of the field to the left goal post, where an unmarked Stein easily headed the ball into the net.

Stein burned Baldwin for another goal early in the second half, splitting two defenders on the run to reach a rolling pass from Matt Meyers that led him into the goal box and sliding the ball into the net.

“Allen played great,” Colvin said of Stein. “He lived up to his potential today. He worked hard all game.”

Zach Bruhn completed the scoring by heading Fratto’s free kick into the goal with 13 minutes left.

The Chiefs will face unranked Thomas County Central on Tuesday. Thomas County Central beat Statesboro 1-0 in the first round.

Second-ranked Starr’s Mill and eighth-ranked Whitewater also opened the playoffs with victories.

Starr's Mill crushed Northside, Warner Robins 8-0, and Whitewater defeated Upson Lee 4-1.

The Panthers were led by Gray Phelps (two goals, one assist), Jesy Phelps (one goal, one assist), John Murtaugh (one goal, one assist) Josh Hughes (one goal), Jerry O'Hara (one goal), Chris Ward (one goal), Ryan O'Shaughnessy (one goal) and Danny Hojaij (three assists).

Starr's Mill was exceptional on defense, as well, holding Northside to only one shot on goal.

"Our defense has been playing well all season," Starr's Mill coach Mike Hanie said. "We've only let up six goals this season. Everybody is working hard on defense."

The game was essentially over at halftime, with Starr's Mill holding a 5-0 lead.

In Whitewater's victory, the Wildcats' goals were scored by Ryan Pugh (two), Robbie Zeider and Victor Murray.

Starr's Mill will play Lakeside Evans on Tuesday, and Whitewater will play Evans the same day.

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Submitted by Jones on Wed, 04/23/2008 - 12:19pm.

Keep up the good work! Best of luck!

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