Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer|
Decatur’s Scott Sumners, right, wrestles Brewer High’s Justin Reed out of bounds during the Morgan County championship game Monday.
Austin, Brewer champs
Patriots grab 1st county crown
By Bradley Handwerger
bhandwerger@decaturdaily · 340-2462
The ball floated in the cold Tennessee Valley air, the whole time heading towards the goal Decatur keeper Andrew Wenzler was charged with defending.
But as he rushed out to grab it in midair, the ball continued on its path, passing Wenzler on its descent back towards the ground.
Waiting at the back post — Brewer's Eric Vallejo.
Perfect place, perfect time.
Vallejo pushed the ball into the net,
and Brewer took a one-goal lead, an advantage it wouldn't relinquish the rest of the
Brewer won its first-ever Morgan County Soccer Tournament on Monday, defeating Decatur 4-2, avenging an opening-round 2-1 loss to the Red Raiders.
Oh yeah, it also could be a preview of a first-round playoff match May 1.
A Brewer win over Athens on Monday would set up a rematch with much more on the line than the Morgan County Tournament.
Nevertheless, the Patriots (12-3-1) celebrated their Monday night victory over Decatur (10-3-3) with plenty of enthusiasm.
Maybe that's because until 5:30 p.m., the Patriots weren't sure they'd be in the tournament finals.
They had to beat Priceville in a 4 p.m. game to earn enough points to qualify.
And late into that game, the Patriots couldn't get the needed goal.
It eventually came, but it set Brewer up with the task of playing a full game less than two hours later.
"These guys got out there and played hard and hustled," Brewer head coach Michael Drinkard said. "Priceville came out and gave us a good run for our money."
Against Decatur, Brewer was more than happy to take a 2-0 lead because of Wenzler mistakes. He misjudged the ball on the first goal in the eighth minute.
"In any soccer match, you get the momentum with
that first goal, it means so much," Decatur coach John Hand said.
Brewer took the momentum and began to own the pace of play. Brewer sophomore Kohl Sowder said it took a couple of minutes to settle into the game plan.
"We just started playing a lot faster," Sowder said. "It was a bunch of one and two touches. Our assistant Hunter Stinson, he stressed that a lot to us pregame."
The Patriots took a two-goal lead when Wenzler misjudged another ball, this one on the ground. Brewer's Justin Reed collected the loose ball in the 47th minute and passed it into the goal.
Three minutes later, Sowder produced what turned into the game-winning goal. Jack
Wanschek's corner was placed high and at the near post, perfect placement for Sowder, who was crashing the goal and headed the ball into the back of it.
"That was sweet," Drinkard said. "He reads the play so well."
Yet, Decatur didn't back down, fighting right back five minutes later. Raul Alanis' rocket into the right upper 90 cut Decatur's deficit to 3-1.
In the 62nd minute, Michael Alfano's shot ricocheted off the post, off the crossbar and across the goalline, making it 3-2.
Suddenly, a 3-0 game turned into a contest with the outcome in question.
But two minutes later, Reed knocked a pass between two Decatur defenders, rightly placed for Jeremy Talley to gather. Talley beat one defender, made a move to defeat Wenzler and put the ball into the goal, securing a 4-2 win for Brewer.
"It's a tough loss," Hand said. "The determination we had showed a lot. I'm proud of the guys. We could have given up down 3-0."
Brewer 1, Priceville 0: Kyle Downs scored late in the game to push Brewer into the tournament finals. Jeremy Talley picked up the assist.
Hartselle 4, West Morgan 0: Zack Woodruff scored two goals to pace Hartselle to the win. Matt Walker and Stephen Owen scored the other two goals.
Morgan County boys all-tournament soccer team as voted on by the coaches:
Decatur High: Phoenix Iverson, Michael Alfano
Brewer: Justin Reed, Eric Vallejo, Jeremy Talley
Hartselle: Matt Walker, Brad Galloway
Priceville: Derick Smith, Lorand Dragu
West Morgan: Jeremy Williams, Ryan Lyle
MVP: Sawyer McLemore, Brewer
Coach of the year: Michael Drinkard, Brewer
Bradley Handwerger, Daily sports writer
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