For The Times
An onslaught of goals at Billy Ellis Memorial Stadium on Thursday night helped fuel the second-ranked Johnson boys soccer team to a 7-0 win over Villa Rica that puts the Knights in the quarterfinals of the GHSA Class 5A playoffs for the second consecutive year. Junior Arellano picked up a hat trick and opened the score off with a quick counter attack 15 minutes from the opening whistle to lead Johnson to the decisive victory over the Wildcats.
With the win, Johnson will host Fayette County at 7 p.m. next Wednesday.
“We are just now peaking our potential,” Knights coach Brian Shirley said. “We were trying to get the pieces put together and did a lot of experimenting earlier in the season.”
The first few exchanges between the two teams were somewhat predictable. Villa Rica was looking to strike quickly, while the defending state champion Knights looked to control the pace of the game and build their attack from the back line forward. Johnson’s simple soccer magic is what pushed it through to the next round.
“We love dictating the pace of the game,” Shirley said. “We’re not a direct team.”
It seemed the pieces were well in place for Johnson Thursday night with goals coming in from long range from Alex Arellano, Rudy Orosco and Jose Gomez, while Abraham Gomez scored an easy tap in off a corner kick to seal the win.
Goalkeeper Cooper Bowen took on the task of keeping the fans involved, collecting a ball outside the penalty box with his chest then chipping his defender with a cheeky header before sending a lobbed pass to his midfielders.
The defense held a high line and finished with a clean sheet, allowing no set pieces around the penalty box for the Wildcats to pose a threat. Despite the near perfect performance, Johnson’s players said the team still has plenty of room to improve.
According to Arellano, it’s all about continuing to play their game and being clinical in the final third.
“I think it’s coming home again.” Arellano said.