It was a shot to the chin Richmond Academy needed in the Georgia High School Association Class AAA soccer tournament. Westover put that figurative fist to jaw a little over ten minutes into play against the Musketeers on Monday in the second round of the state playoffs.
The Patriots took the lead on a penalty kick, but it was the starting point of a sequence spanning two minutes of game clock that highlighted Richmond Academy's 3-1 victory.
It began when Westover's Max Dixon deked Richmond Academy goalie Peter Menk on the penalty kick. Dixon's shot went one way. Menk went the way that soon had him pounding the still-soggy ground in front of the Musketeers' goal.
"That was our wake-up," Richmond's Parker Rogers said. "It made us realize we better come back or we'd be done."
Richmond, with its recent history of underachieving in the state playoffs, was down for only the second time all season and first time in seven weeks.
"It was crazy," Richmond Academy coach Chris Hughes said. "We hadn't even allowed a shot on goal at that point and we're down 1-0. I was curious as to just how our guys would respond to that."
If the Musketeers blinked from the early pressure, it was only to better deliver their rebuttal less than two minutes later. Cline Beam's diving header was so pretty that two ricochets couldn't keep if from the back of the net.
"It hit the right-side pole and then hit me in the face," Westover keeper Connor O'Neil said. "Then it bounced in. That was just a great, great header from that guy."
Beam put his noggin to good use off a long ball from senior John Mark Capers. He said afterward it was one of the more unique goals of his career.
It might have been his biggest of the 2004 season.
"It was important because last year we got scored on in the playoffs and we didn't fight back," Beam said. "We didn't play to win that game at all. This time we stuck with it, and figured out how to get a goal and get it quick."
Senior Havird Usry, having lived the playoff nightmares of the past, was pleased with the quick response.
"They touch the ball once in our half of the field while we're pounding the nets on them," Usry said. "They make their first trip down, get a little foul and get the (penalty kick). Composure was the word for us today. We came back well faced with the fact we were down a goal in the state playoffs."
Senior forward Josh Pittman scored the team's final two goals. Beam assisted him on the next score to go up 2-1 with less than five minutes to play in the first half.
The final score is a bit misleading, considering the Musketeers triggered 40 shots in the game to Westover's six.
"This means no slip-up today and we are in the quarterfinals against either Westminster or Gainesville now," Pittman said. "Those are both real good teams and that's just what we want to face. We'll be ready."
Reach Jeff Sentell at (706) 823-3425 or email@example.com.
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