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Soccer: Denmark nets 2 second-half goals to rally past Duluth
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Denmark players, from left, Sebastian Zabala, Dolapo Morakinyo, Camden Barnett and Jacob Pelletier celebrate Wednesday after Morakinyo's goal against Duluth. Photo by Jay Rooney Photography

By Noah Rubin

For the Forsyth County News

Denmark's boys soccer team defeated Duluth 3-2 in dramatic fashion Wednesday, marking the Danes' first playoff victory in program history. 

Junior David Gad made the game-winning save as time expired to help his team advance to the next round.

The Danes struck first, as sophomore Camden Barnett found senior Dolapo Morakinyo for a goal fewer than four minutes into the match. However, the Wildcats responded with two goals fewer than three minutes apart.

Denmark coach Brett Godwin was proud of the way his team responded to the early deficit.

“It was a great start for us coming out scoring early in the game,” Godwin said. “They caught us quick, we fell asleep, and they got two quick goals on us after that, and we definitely faced some adversity the rest of the first half. But it was a great response from [our team]. It shows that they have a lot of maturity, and I’m impressed with how mature they were in their first playoff experience.”

Trailing 2-1 at halftime, Denmark turned the game around early in the second half. 

Fewer than two minutes in, senior Curry Coronado scored on a free kick that tied the game at two. Sophomore Benji Ashtar followed that goal 20 minutes later with an incredible goal of his own that ended up being the game-winner.

A strange factor in the game was the weather. It’s not often that teams are playing in 40-degree temperatures with heavy winds in late April. 

According to Godwin, the weather played an important role in his team’s comeback.

“Knowing we were going with the wind in the second half, I told them not really to change much [at halftime],” Godwin said. “We had a feeling they would sit back on us, so we really wanted to try and go around their back line and use the wings, and it created a lot of chances for us.”

Denmark (12-6) is scheduled to face Roswell next Tuesday in the second round of the state playoffs after the fourth-seeded Hornets upended top-seeded North Gwinnett in penalty kicks. 

Until then, Godwin plans on having his team be prepared by taking things one game at a time.

“At this point, we’ve extended our season, and we can’t really look ahead past next Tuesday,” Godwin said. “Hopefully we can keep extending their soccer careers even longer.”