East Hall is marching on to the second round of the Class AAA boys soccer state playoffs after dismantling Gordon Central in the first round in a 9-0 result.
Leo Toledo shined once again for the Vikings (18-1), leading them into the second round where they’ll host Peach County on May 3. The Trojans defeated Washington County 7-1 in the first round on Thursday. Time for the second-round game has not yet been decided.
“We got some positives from this game and we definitely have some things to work on,” East Hall coach Chris Horton said. “It was great because we got every guy on the roster a chance to play. In a state playoff game, that’s a big thing.”
East Hall put overwhelming pressure on the Warriors (7-7) early and didn’t let up.
Toledo opened up scoring less than three minutes in as he received a through ball from Diego Ramirez on the right side of the 18-yard box. Toledo broke free of a defender and placed the ball through a tight window behind keeper Bogar Aguilar.
Nearly six minutes later, Toledo fired another goal, but Aguilar blocked the shot with his legs. The ball careened back to the top of the box where Carlos Castrejon was there to rocket one home of his own.
The Vikings waited five minutes before adding another goal.
Sergio Turcios put the ball in the back of the net from just inside the 18-yard box to put the Vikings up 3-0.
Toledo picked up his second goal of the game in the 23rd minute, but the goal of the half came from Turcios. It wasn’t the goal of the half in how he scored it, but the setup that was most impressive.
Turcios had the ball at his feet and then passed off to Toledo at the top of the box. Instead of turning and looking to complete his hat trick, Toledo simply touched the ball right back to Turcios, who was streaking into the box, for the finish.
Toledo would secure his hat trick with 3:16 left in the first half on a rocket of a strike from 20 yards out, sailing over the left shoulder of the oncoming Aguilar.
With a comfortable 6-0 lead at the half, East Hall held Gordon Central from getting a shot off in the first 40 minutes of play. The Vikings had 18 shots with eight on goal. East Hall also forced 11 corners in the first half and conceded none to the Warriors.
Despite making a lot of substitutions in the second half and getting every player on the roster playing time, the East Hall offense actually improved in numbers.
The Vikings got off an even 20 shots with 14 on goal. The Warriors launched three shots in the second half with only one on goal.
East Hall scored its final three goals inside the last 15 minutes of play.
Toledo dribbled around a defender, drew the Aguilar away from the goal, tapped past him and then into the net for his fourth goal of the night.
“We took care of business,” Toledo said. “We had a lot more speed and were able to get more through balls. They opened up some gaps for us.”
Just shy of three minutes later, Turcios nearly made a carbon copy of Toledo’s goal.
Turcios took a pass from Oscar Gonzalez at the top of the box before spinning around a defender, tapping the ball past an advancing Aguilar and finished with another easy touch into the goal.
The final goal of the game was scored by Bryan Galvez, who had the ball fall at his feet off a deflection before he sent it to the back of the net.
“They’re an awesome soccer team,” Gordon Central coach Grant Anderson said. “They controlled the midfield. They know where they’re going to be at all times, that’s for sure.”
Toledo said the Vikings have that chemistry to know where each other are on the field because they have become a family.
“We’re always hanging out together and always being around each other,” Toledo said. “When we play soccer, we always take it seriously. we don’t joke around. we always hang out outsided of school and have become a great team and family.”
The Warriors were making their first playoff appearance in six years and trying to be just the second team in school history to win a playoff game.
“We’re trying to get to that next level,” Anderson said. “We’re going down a classification next year, but this was a good experience for the boys. They were a class act. They didn’t push, pull, they didn’t play dirty soccer. They play good, honest, clean soccer. That’s what you want to set your goals and aspirations is to be that team.”
As the focus for the Vikings turns to Peach County, Horton knows, regardless of who’s lining up across from them, the next game is the most important.
“Soccer is a matchup. You can matchup really well against someone and you can matchup very poorly against someone,” Horton said. “Game 1, that was the most important game of the season. The next one is the most important game of the season and that’s how we’re going to approach it.”
Toledo said the Vikings’ 9-0 win shows they mean business.
“It shows we’re not here to mess around,” Toledo said. “We’re here to score and not let goals go in.”