The Millbrook boys soccer team is in control of the Cap-8 Conference with a 2-1 win over Broughton combined with Sanderson’s loss Tuesday night.
The Wildcats and Capitals played a very tight game for nearly the first 60 minutes. With two stingy midfields and defenses, neither team was able to string together strong scoring opportunities until Millbrook broke through in the 59th minute.
Ian Pearlswig put the Wildcats ahead off a long, bouncing free kick, and several minutes later, Zack Thomas scored an insurance goal for Millbrook. After Erik Johnson headed in Broughton’s lone goal of the night, the Caps fought back and had a few chances to tie but fell just short.
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The win served two big purposes for the Wildcats (15-2-1, 8-1-1). They got revenge for a 4-2 loss to Broughton on September 19, the last time Millbrook lost, and – coupled with Sanderson’s 2-1 loss to Leesville Road – gave themselves some breathing room at the top of the Cap-8 standings.
The Wildcats are 8-1-1 in conference play with Leesville trailing at 7-2 and Sanderson at 7-3.
But this win didn’t come easy. With Broughton holding a high line defensively, the Wildcats had to find more creative ways to score than passing in the attacking third.
Pearlswig’s goal came off a free kick 40 yards out that snuck past the keeper. On the second goal, Emmet Wood launched a rainbow shot from 35 yards out that dipped over the goalie and hit the crossbar. The rebound fell to Zack Thomas, and he buried the shot.
“Zack’s putback – that might’ve looked easy, but that’s something most people would’ve put into the parking lot,” Edwards said.
The Caps (11-5-1, 5-4) weren’t able to catch up in the conference standings, but coach Craig Brannan said he’s still pleased with his team’s play.
“Erik Johnson, who hadn’t played a lot this year, scores the big goal,” Brannan said. “It was a little frantic at the end there and who knows. We had a little chance.”
Although Broughton matched up well with Millbrook in the midfield, it struggled on offense to find scoring opportunities. The Wildcats’ high line caught the Caps offsides multiple times, frustrating their forwards.
“If you execute too quickly, a lot of balls were being played out of bounds that were good ideas,” Brannan said. “If they slow down and are just happy with possession, I think we get more space. When we’re doing our best, we’re holding the ball, letting things develop with combination play.”
Although this game may have put Broughton out of the conference race, Brannan has his sights set on a different goal.
“We’re trying to make the playoffs and make a run, and maybe the Cap-8’s something for next year,” Brannan said.
17th minute: A Millbrook header hits the right goal post and caroms out to a Wildcat player, but the shot is deflected out of bounds.
Halftime: Broughton 0, Millbrook 0
59th minute: Broughton’s Graham Gunter earns a yellow card with a late slide tackle. Millbrook scores the first goal of the night off Ian Pearlswig’s deep free kick that bounces through traffic (Millbrook 1, Broughton 0).
66th minute: Emmet Wood’s deep shot hits the crossbar and lands at the feet of Millbrook’s Zack Thomas. He puts the ball away on a difficult strike (Millbrook , Broughton 0).
75th minute: Broughton pulls one back off Erik Johnson’s header. Jacob Hill sent a long free kick into the box and Johnson was left unmarked (Millbrook 2, Broughton 1).
End of regulation: Millbrook 2, Broughton 1
THEY SAID IT
“After losing to this team earlier, it’s good for us to exorcise some of the demons with that,” Edwards said.