Greene County boys soccer beats LOA on senior night
By Justin Hubbard
Jorge Reyes, Brandon Moreno and Ke’Undre Hall played their final game at Tiger Stadium last Friday, and Greene County’s three seniors left the field victorious after beating Lake Oconee Academy, 5-1.
The Tigers wasted little time getting on the board, as they knocked in a goal with 37:56 on the clock in the first half. Reyes scored two goals during the game, including one on an impressive shot from several yards out that squeaked around a few players. His two-goal performance capped off a highly successful run with the program.
As of Friday, Reyes had 66 career goals. He led the team in scoring each of his four years at Greene County, and he had 13 this season after Friday’s game.
Reyes’ coach, Dan Whelan, lauded him for his contributions to the program. Whelan said Reyes carried the team offensively in the past, but that hasn’t been the case this season.
“They expect him to be the goal scorer, but we've got a team now where they spread out the goals so he doesn't have to carry that load,” Whelan said. “He's actually had the most assists that he's ever had in his career. … He is going to play at the next level. If he applies himself, he could go even further than that, but it's something that he has to want to do. It would be great to see him do that.”
Hall, who plays defense, logged several minutes in his final home game. Moreno, on the other hand, was not as fortunate as Reyes and Hall.
Moreno was injured in a previous game when he collided with the opposing goalkeeper. Whelan said Moreno had a pulled ligament in his left leg. The senior suited up last Friday and helped kick off the game.
The Tigers intentionally worked the ball out of bounds and Whelan removed Moreno from the game because he couldn’t compete and replaced him with Cristian Escutia.
“It's a shame that Brandon was injured,” Whelan said.
Greene’s three seniors served as the Tigers’ captains. Whelan said each one played a different role, but all three were integral to the team’s success.
“Brandon was my more consistent captain, Jorge was the captain by example and Ke’Undre was the vocal, rah-rah, let's get 'em going captain,” he said. “And they played their roles very well, and I'm very happy with that.”
The Tigers previously beat LOA 2-1 on March 6. In anticipation of the teams’ rematch, Whelan decided to shake things up.
He used a different defensive scheme last week against the Titans. After overcoming a few mistakes, the Tigers effectively adjusted to the change, much to Whelan’s pleasure.
“I played a 4-5-1 [defense] because we've seen them before,” Whelan said. “I knew [the Titans] were going to put pressure on us, so I wanted to start defensively and then go forward from there. By playing the 4-5-1, it opened up the wings, so the plan was ‘win the ball, attack wide,’ and they did that well. They had some stretches where they got a little touch happy with the ball, but once they straightened that out, we started playing the game efficiently, which was good to see.”
Friday’s win over LOA gave the Tigers a 6-6-1 record on the year. That’s much improved from Greene County’s record through the first four games, which was 0-4.
The Tigers finally won their first game Feb. 24 at Butler. They hit a two-game skid after the victory, but have not lost since March 3. The team’s tie was against Lincoln County on March 21.
“We started off slow,” Whelan said. “They weren't sure about things, then it kicked in about halfway through where they started determining the course of the game instead of the other teams.”
Greene’s roster features 10 freshmen. Whelan said he thought their inexperience hurt the team early in the season.
“It took them a while to get up to speed at this level, and now they're there,” Whelan said. “So ever since then, it's been great games. I'm so looking forward to the next four years.”
Whelan’s got an eye toward the future because of his younger players’ success. Isaac Acosta proved to be a tough goalkeeper down the stretch of the season. Jefferson Del Valle, Thomas Moody and Heriberto Rodriguez scored 16 goals combined.
The year wasn’t over as of last Friday, though. Greene still had one more regular season matchup left at Madison County this past Tuesday. Whelan said he wasn’t necessarily worried about winning the game. He’d be satisfied playing well one more time and taking a solid performance into an important off season.
“Madison County is in the league with the Oconees and Morgan and they're at the bottom of their table,” Whelan said. “We should be able to challenge them, certainly. Whether we get the results, I don't know. I'm actually not all that concerned about the results at this point. It's getting them to play the game correctly, play the game efficiently, and if they do that, then the wins are gonna come. And I wouldn't be surprised if we lose a close match to Madison, and I certainly wouldn't be surprised if we beat them. But it should be a competitive game.”