Carlton D. White
For the Forsyth County News
SMYRNA – Denmark is looking more and more like a veteran, experienced team than a third-year program making its first appearance in the state playoffs.
Trailing 1-0 at halftime, the Danes dominated the second half in their matchup against Campbell and stunned the region champion 2-1 in a quarterfinal contest of the Class 7A state playoffs at McDaniel Stadium Wednesday.
Denmark (13-6) advanced to its first state playoff semifinal, where it will host Lambert after the Longhorns won 2-0 at Walton in one of the bracket’s other quarterfinals.
Denmark beat Lambert 1-0 on March 5.
“We’re only a third-year school and this is our first time in the Class 7A playoffs,” Denmark coach Brett Godwin said. “I think our guys played a fantastic match. We’re still building our program and it’s great to get to this point, so we’ll see how far we can keep this going.”
Denmark controlled possession through the first 25 minutes of the first half but had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard.
Meanwhile, Campbell (13-6-2) recovered from its slow start and outshot the Danes 8-0 over the final 15 minutes, netting a goal from Joshua Acevedo with five minutes, 49 seconds left on the clock during a scrum in front of the net.
Acevedo managed to get possession among a group of players following a throw-in from Fernando Cuevas and fired the shot past goalkeeper David Gad from 10 yards out for the 1-0 Spartans advantage.
The lead proved precarious in the second half, with Denmark dictating play early once again. This time, however, the Danes never relented.
“Being down at halftime was a position we’d been in before,” Godwin said. “I thought we played well in the first half, so I encouraged the guys to keep pushing the tempo and play fast and make [Campbell] run after the ball and tire them out. It was a strategy that worked well for us.”
Curry Coronado knotted the match at 1-all with 21:24 remaining in the game after delivering a 30-yard free kick over goalkeeper Brian Hernandez. Hernandez never saw the shot coming as players blocked his field of view.
The Danes moved in front 2-1 with 14:21 on the clock following a header from Sebastian Zabala off a corner kick from Taye Beckford.
Denmark continued to apply pressure to Campbell throughout the second half. The Danes outshot the Spartans 15-2 after halftime, with both of Campbell’s attempts coming in the final five minutes.
“It’s a big game of momentum,” Campbell coach Troy Connolly said. “We started the first five minutes comfortably and then [Denmark] put the pressure on us. Their midfield killed us, and we had a tough time getting to the ball.”
Campbell blanked Denmark 3-0 on the road to conclude its 2021 regular season schedule. The Danes avenged that loss and now move on to the state semifinals.