Wolfpack cruises in playoff tune up

GREENBRIER 3, EVANS 1

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Tyler Sanders raised both hands above his head, instructing his Greenbrier teammates what to expect from Evans in the final minutes of their soccer game Monday night.

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Greenbrier's Jacob Bongiovi (left) keeps the ball away from Evans' Chris Burton during the Wolfpack's 3-1 victory over the Knights.   Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Greenbrier's Jacob Bongiovi (left) keeps the ball away from Evans' Chris Burton during the Wolfpack's 3-1 victory over the Knights.

"It's all like this," he said, referring to the passes Evans would be trying to knock over the Wolfpack's heads.

Sanders, a senior defender, would know, as at this point he had spent an entire game brushing those attacks aside.

Greenbrier's defense bottled in Evans' attack, its offense created multiple eye-pleasing goals and the Wolfpack dismantled Evans 3-1 in a non-region game to all but wrap up an undefeated regular season.

Both Evans and Greenbrier will open the state playoffs a week from today at home, but this contest offered a final chance for a competitive, playoff-like game.

Greenbrier had not lost a regular-season game in more than two years, and Evans had improved since a 2-0 defeat to Lakeside wiped away Region 3-AAAA title hopes.

Greenbrier held up its reputation as the area's best team by scoring in the first moments of each half. The Wolfpack scored the first three goals and didn't give up a score until practically its entire starting lineup was on the bench.

"We scored early in both halves, and that was real important," Greenbrier coach Chip Warren said. "I'm proud of all our guys. These games can be tough."

Reed Norton converted a penalty kick after an Evans foul five minutes into the game. Kelechi Erondu then stole a poor clearance to set up Matt Shank for a goal 36 seconds into the second half.

Greenbrier (15-0-2) beat the two top teams in Region 3-AAAA by a combined 7-2.

Erondu, who scored the Wolfpack's final goal on a header with 11:13 to play, was part of several nice combination passing plays on the outside of the Wolfpack's 4-4-2 formation that allowed its outside midfielders to push forward.

Evans (12-5-1) countered with a formation with five midfielders designed to collapse on Greenbrier playmaker Hunter Norton, the area's best player.

Norton, who dissected Lakeside for nearly all 80 minutes of a 4-1 win last week, did not have a goal or an assist in this one, though his production was hardly missed.

"You saw the whole game; they had two or three guys on him," Sanders said. "Our outside backs were able to get up, and they hit a couple of good crosses in. It opened up the game more."

Evans coach Brian Killips said he emphasized to his team before the game that it could beat Greenbrier with direct passes to striker William Wren, a speedy player capable of outrunning any defense.

Killips later said this might have forced his team to push forward too quickly.

"There were times when we had the ball with space in the midfield, and we were playing direct right there as opposed to making them chase us for awhile.," Killips said. "We were so focused on that, we lost track of building it up a little bit. I'm partly to blame for that, because I told them we could be pretty direct."

Senior Joe Rizner had Evans' lone goal, a penalty kick with 4:50 left.



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