It took eight minutes for North Hall’s boys soccer team to turn a tight game into a comfortable lead.
The Trojans scored three goals midway through the first half en route to a 5-2 win over non-region foe Flowery Branch in near-freezing temperatures on Tuesday night at The Brickyard.
“We found the flanks real well, we have a lot of speed up top and a lot of fantastic players playing on the ball,” North Hall coach Jonathon Lillie said. “It is inevitable, I guess.”
After Flowery Branch took a 1-0 lead, North Hall scored three goals, the first off a penalty kick at the 22nd minute, to grab a 3-1 lead. They added to their lead in the second half, using goals in the 61st and 72nd minutes.
With the win, North Hall improved to 3-2-1 on the season, and Lillie hopes the Trojans will be able to build momentum moving forward with the season.
“I’m hoping so,” Lillie said. “We had some injuries against White County. We beat them 10-0 and a week to the day later we lost 4-1. They played tough and we have to show more consistency and mental stability, as well.”
The Trojans finished the night outshooting the Falcons 15-8, including an 8-2 advantage in the first half.
After Flowery Branch opened with a Kyle Opfer goal just four minutes into the game, the Trojans took over the game, especially the first 40 minutes, with the majority of the possession being held on the Trojans’ side of the field.
Jake Stephens got the Trojans onto the scoreboard in the 22nd minute, scoring a goal on a penalty kick to even the game at 1-1.
The Trojans took the lead with a goal in the 27th minute from Jairo Barrientos, who beat a pair of Flowery Branch defenders to earn the goal from the left side. Three minutes later, Junior Avalos scored from far outside the box, kicking into an open Flowery Branch net.
“Not what we were hoping for tonight,” Flowery Branch coach Rick Godfrey said. “We didn’t press the ball enough and we’re working getting better, but we didn’t execute what we practiced tonight. I was hoping to give North Hall a better game tonight.”
Avalos scored again in the 61st minute to give North Hall a 4-1 lead, only to see Flowery Branch answer back three minutes later with a penalty kick goal from Nick Biasi. North Hall closed out the scoring with a header from Hunter Carter.
Part of North Hall’s success was attributed to Flowery Branch’s lack of defense, according to Godfrey. The Falcons’ lack of pressure on the defensive end allowed the Trojans the ability to use their speed on the outside, getting the flank players open for goals, especially in the first half.
“If we can sure it up on defense I think we will be a bigger challenge for teams around here,” Godfrey said. “That’s what’s happened to us the last couple of games — we’ve played real well at times and we’ve given up several goals very quickly. It’s hard to come back when you give up goals that quickly. So we have to lock it down defensively.”
FLOWERY BRANCH GIRLS 2, NORTH HALL 0: Corrie Thomas scored a goal eight minutes into the game and Lauren Kirk added another in the 58th minute as the Lady Falcons earned a non-region win on Tuesday night in Gainesville.
Thomas’ goal in the eighth minute came on an assist from Julia Sienkiewicz, who outran every North Hall defender down the sideline and into the corner. The score remained 1-0 until Kirk scored from the middle of the field in the 58th minute, running the ball past North Hall goalie Alden Powell, a Shorter University signee.
Flowery Branch controlled the tempo of the game, especially in the first half. Using their speed to an advantage, the Lady Falcons managed eight first-half shots, while limiting North Hall to no shot opportunities.
North Hall’s first shot on goal came in the 43rd minute off a free kick from senior Tristian Bailey, who curled the ball toward the front of the goal. The kick bounced off a Lady Trojan player and Flowery Branch was able to clear the ball from in front of the net.
Flowery Branch finished the night with 15 shots, while limiting North Hall to just two.
North Hall has three more home games remaining in this current home stand, continuing Friday night with non-region games against Forsyth Central. Flowery Branch, meanwhile, will host Winder-Barrow in the Region 8-AAAAA opener.