By Alan Cole
For the Forsyth County News
LAWRENCEVILLE — It took only one set piece for South Forsyth to grab all the momentum Tuesday in its Class 7A second-round game at Mountain View.
The War Eagles fell behind fewer than four minutes in and nearly went down two on a couple of occasions. But with 29:23 left in the first half, Jesse Ventura headed home a corner kick in South’s first shot of the game. That was enough to swing the pendulum, and it never made it back to Mountain View’s side.
Gavin Williams and Patrick Kelly added two more goals to give South a 3-1 victory over the Bears.
“I think we just settled down and got into the rhythm of our own game,” South head coach Chere’ Thomas said. “It’s hard coming in on the road against a very good team, but I think a lot of it was our nerves.”
A fidgety South defense failed to clear an early corner kick, and Obed Salmeron was on hand to sweep the loose ball into the net just 3:37 into the game. The Bears were coming off their first playoff win in program history over Cherokee, and they had the lead in a blink.
But they missed two big chances in the next five minutes to add another goal, and that was just the lifeline the War Eagles needed. Their first real attack yielded the corner that produced Ventra’s goal with 29:23 left in the first half. They did not score again before halftime, but the shot in the arm from Ventura put them in control of proceedings with a 1-1 score.
Mountain View produced most of its chances on long balls over the top to striker Ezra Hoffman, but those became increasingly less effective as the game wore on thanks to stingy defensive work from the South back four.
“We knew that coming in,” Thomas said on the long balls. “We did not execute it very well at the beginning, but we made some adjustments. We were just on our toes. That was basically how we had to defend that.”
The dam burst at the other end when Dino Stavros drew a foul inside the box for a penalty kick. Williams scored to make it 2-1. That took a lot of air out of the Bears’ balloon, and just seven minutes later, Kelly rifled a shot into the roof of the net from the top of the box to give South three unanswered goals.
Mountain View came close to drawing within a goal again when Sammy Ismail hit the crossbar and Hoffman struck a free kick just wide, but the door never opened for a possible comeback.
The War Eagles advance to the Elite Eight with another road game at Harrison on May 5.