10/23/07 — Eastern Wayne shocks Hunt

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Eastern Wayne shocks Hunt

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on October 23, 2007 3:10 PM

If at first you don't succeed, try again and then change your game plan.

After failing in its first two attempts to knock off Wilson Hunt this season, Eastern Wayne tried a different approach with its season on the line on Monday night in the semifinals of the Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference tournament at Little Big Horn.

The third-seeded Warriors matched Hunt's intensity and physical play, and Robbie Keys scored a pair of goals -- including the game-winner in Eastern Wayne's 2-1 victory. Now Keys and his teammates get a chance to avenge two more regular-season losses, this time against county rival Charles B. Aycock in Wednesday's tournament championship.

Chris Knobling dribbled down the right sideline and crossed a ball inside the 18-yard box to Keys, who was able to settle it and beat Hunt keeper Will Jacobs with just inside nine minutes left in regulation.

"In the second half, we went in and picked it up and did what we could," Keys said. "The first time we played Hunt, we lost on a fluke offsides goal in the second overtime. The second time we played, at Hunt, it was a tough loss. But we came back, and it was a team effort tonight."

Hunt, the tournament's No. 2 seed, had a few decent looks down the stretch, including a shot on goal inside of three minutes, but every late scoring attempt went begging.

After struggling to adapt to Hunt's up-tempo pace in the first half, Eastern Wayne dominated possession in the final 40 minutes. Hunt (13-8-1 overall) found itself defending more often, while Eastern Wayne pressured the goal with scoring opportunities on deep throw-in's and passes over the top.

"We allowed too many deadly balls into our zone," Hunt coach Drew Nick said. "They just pressured, pressured and pressured our goal. If you give any team pressure on the goal that many times, something is going to go in. This one really mattered and it hurt us."

Even when the contest turned physical, the Warriors' seemed unfazed. Instead of backing away from Hunt's traditional in-your-jersey style of play, Eastern Wayne (9-10-0) matched it tackle-for-tackle, forcing Hunt to earn possession of the ball.

"Today you saw the second way to beat a quality opponent, and that was to match their physical play." Eastern Wayne coach Jorg Wagner said. "I had the boys go in as hard as they possibly can with the tackles and it paid off. It was by no means a dirty game, and I thought the officials did a fair job. Maybe it helped break down their defense in the second half."

Jeffrey Reardon tallied Hunt's only goal off an assist in the 18-yard box from Eli Inscoe in the 26th minute. Despite the fact that Reardon appeared to be just offsides, the goal stood. Hunt had what appeared to be a sure goal in the fifth minute, but it was cleared off the line. There were also four first-half corner kicks that went by the wayside for Hunt.

Eastern Wayne delivered the equalizer in the 38th minute when Sang Kim found Keys in the middle of the 18 box. Keys punched it past Jacobs, giving the Warriors a huge lift just before halftime.

"Something short before the halftime like that gives you a big boost," Wagner said. "It's a new game at halftime. It makes a big difference when you go in and you've been chasing for 30 minutes and you don't have anything to show for it."

The Warriors finished with an 8-7 shots on goal advantage, and Josh Olmsted finished with five saves in place of the injured Vincent Hagedorn.

While C.B. Aycock's coaching staff admitted earlier Monday evening they fully expected to face Hunt in Wednesday's finals, they got a bit of a surprise in the form of a familiar foe. This time around, there's a trophy on the line.

"We get another bite at Aycock," Keys said. "It's a clash of playing styles. We keep it on the deck and work it toward the goal, as opposed to just hit it to one kid and hopefully he can do something.

"I like our style of play pretty much. I love playing Aycock, especially here at home."