Greenbrier owned the first and last 30 seconds of the Georgia High School Association Class AAAA state semifinal boys soccer game on Wednesday night. The rest of the game belonged to top-ranked McIntosh.
The team ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 2 in the nation by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America stood true to its billing in a 3-2 win at Greenbrier. The season ended for the Wolfpack the same way it did last year - at home in the state semifinals.
"I felt like today was a state championship game," Greenbrier boys soccer coach Chip Warren said. "I think tonight we lost to the state champions."
Greenbrier appeared headed for a a trip to the state finals after Wolfpack junior Pieter James scored half a minute into the game. A long throw-in put the ball near the net, but it was kicked away by McIntosh goalkeeper Jason McCloskey. James was there for the rebound and stuck it in the right corner of for a quick 1-0 lead.
"That's exactly what we wanted to do," Warren said. "The first 10 or 20 minutes we played with a lot of momentum because of that first goal, but give them credit because they settled in and didn't let it get to them."
McIntosh, undefeated on the season at 20-0-2, looked to senior Cameron Black to come to the rescue. Black answered the call three times in the final 25 minutes of the first half.
The starting midfielder gave his team a 3-1 halftime lead on three goals that looked painfully similar to the Greenbrier fans.
"Cameron is a smart player, and I think he figured out that the goalkeeper was going to come to the front post," McIntosh boys soccer coach Bunky Colvin said. "He went to the back post all three times, and it worked."
The hat trick put Black at 17 goals for the year and gave his team a ticket to the state championship game on Saturday.
Wolfpack junior Matt McCue scored in a last-minute rally to bring Greenbrier to within one goal of McIntosh, but with 21 seconds left in the game the Wolfpack didn't have enough time to get another shot off.
Greenbrier, ranked No. 2 in the state and No. 5 in the nation, saw its season end with a 20-2 record. Both losses were to McIntosh.
"It's sad that these two teams had to meet anywhere but the state finals," Colvin said.
"I said it the first time we played them, and I'll say it again. They are the best team we have played all year."
Reach Billy Byler at (706) 863-6165 or firstname.lastname@example.org.