PLAYOFF TIME IN MILLEDGEVILLE: Bulldogs advance to Final Four with gutsy home win
The Georgia Military College Prep boys soccer team moved one step closer to a third consecutive GHSA Class A Public state championship Tuesday night when they defeated Trion 2-1 in a thrilling quarterfinal clash.
The Bulldogs got off to a sluggish start as Trion dominated possession of the ball for most of the first half. The visiting four seed came out aggressive, controlling the pace of the game and pushing the tempo.
Trion junior Jose Mateo notched the first score of the contest with a beautiful left-footed kick into the top left corner of the goal. The visitors seemed to be gaining momentum, but the Bulldogs kept their heads up and dug deep.
With less than five minutes to go in the opening half, GMC senior Andrew Barnes got his team on the board with a clutch kick into the right half of the opposing goal. The huge play turned the game on a dime as momentum shifted in favor of the crowd favorites.
Fifth-year head coach Bobby Jaworski praised his team’s resilient response to their slow start.
“I’m super proud,” Jaworski said. “In a lot of our games so far this season, we haven’t started the way we need to or matched the teams we were playing. We went behind, but we found it and matched it. The goal in the first half was fantastic.”
GMC looked like a totally different team coming out of halftime. From the moment the second half started, the Bulldogs were a more cohesive and aggressive unit. The home team flipped the script as possession of the ball stayed with GMC for most of the final forty minutes.
“Early on, we were playing Trion’s ball,” Jaworski said. “I told them at halftime that we had to be a little more confident and a little more composed with the ball. We needed to find the outlet passes and just work together.”
Jaworski’s players took his advice and ran with it. Trion’s defense held firm for most of the night, but GMC freshman Brody Brock made the biggest play of his young career as a Bulldog with less than six minutes to go on the clock.
Brock scored the most important goal of the playoffs for GMC so far, and that score sealed the win as the Bulldog defense kept Trion at bay for the remaining minutes of the game.
“That was big time,” Jaworski said. “Brody has been coming a long way as far as his play and his confidence this year, and I think that play kind of cemented where he’s going.”
With the victory, GMC moved to 11-7 on the season and kept their hopes for a title alive.
The Bulldogs will continue their quest for a third straight state championship Friday at 5 p.m. when they take on No. 1 seed Dalton Academy (16-2, 5-0) on the road.
“The mindset is the same as how it’s always been,” Jaworski said. “We have a big target on our back. Obviously, the stakes are a lot higher because the title game would be the very next game. We know that Dalton Academy will come out with heavy intensity, and we’ve gotta be able to match it and see if we can take our game to them.”