Sometimes the hardest goal to score is the first one.
That was the case Tuesday night when Greenbrier played host to the Hardaway Hawks, the No. 4 seed from Region 1, in the first round of the Georgia High School Association Class AAAA boys state tournament.
The No. 1-seed Wolfpack had a number of chances to score in the first half, but it took a Luke Waechter penalty kick with just under 41/2 minutes left in the half to get on the board. The Wolfpack scored three more times in the second half and rolled to the 4-0 win.
They will now play host to the winner of Habersham Central and Chattahoochee next Tuesday.
“You’re always looking for the first one,” Wolfpack head coach Chip Warren said. “If we had got that early, it would have been a different game as well. Anytime you get a goal it takes the pressure off.”
While the Wolfpack (17-1)
couldn’t convert some point-blank chances in the first half, Hawks goalie David Scott was a major factor. He made seven of his 17 saves in the half and was the team’s best player.
He forced Waecther to be perfect to score on the penalty kick.
“He went the right way and dived and he’s so tall I thought he would get it, but I placed it just right,” said Waechter, who placed it in the lower-right corner of the goal.
“I knew it was an important moment. It helped us pick up our intensity.”
While Scott was being tested, Wolfpack goalie Zack Maxwell stopped one shot, that coming after 461/2 minutes had elapsed. On the rare occasions the Hawks got deep into Wolfpack territory, the defense was able to clear easily.
Playing in his first state playoff game, Logan Tihey was the big goal scorer for the Wolfpack on a night they were without James Toombs. Toombs, who scored eight goals for the Wolfpack during the region playoffs, was out after receiving two yellow cards in the region final. Tihey scored on a rebound at the 26:42 mark, then put the ball in a wide-open net at 18:24 after receiving a cross from Bryan Thompson.
“Anyone could have made that second goal,” Tihey said. “Bryan (Thompson) did a good job getting it to me.”
Thompson also scored the Wolfpack’s third goal, blasting it past the goalie, rewarding Reed Norton who gave him a perfect pass.