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Prep soccer: Falcons season ends with state semifinal loss
Flowery Branch High Goal Keeper Zach Clark helps a shot on goal over the bar during the first half of the Falcons’ Tuesday night playoff match with Westminster at Falcon Field.


Listen to Flowery Branch coach Jeremy Purdy talk about his seniors.

FLOWERY BRANCH —— Virtually every battle at midfield was won by Westminster, virtually every Falcons’ shot was deflected or saved and despite battling until the last minute, Class AAA’s No. 3-ranked Flowery Branch was beaten by No. 2 Westminster (17-3) 2-1 in the state semifinals Tuesday night at Falcon Field.

"First off, God has blessed us this whole season," Flowery Branch coach Jeremy Purdy said. "We were determined, regardless, to work hard and do our best; we just came up short."

Flowery Branch (18-2), which came into Tuesday night’s matchup looking for its fifth straight shutout, looked to have the momentum at the beginning of the match when, four minutes in, senior midfielder David Patino found a loose ball and upon kicking it, subsequently found the net.

"We switched over to a different formation this year," Purdy said, "and I thought it was very beneficial to our midfielders with (Johnny) Venegas and (David) Patino and the roles they could play in our offense."

The Wildcats evened the score at the 20-minute mark off the foot of Smith Haverty and took their first and only needed lead of the game 14 minutes later when, off a throw-in by Haverty, Felipe Villahoz found the back of the net.

Westminster came into the game averaging 3.2 goals per game.

"They’ve scored five goals in the last three games off set pieces," Purdy said.

"We knew they were deadly. Staff from other teams told us just beware of the throw-insand we worked on it in practice.

"We set our goal to eliminate any type of goals in the set pieces and it fell their way tonight, sometimes that happens. But I can’t say enough about the guys."

The Falcons, usually potent offense, scored 11 goals in the previous four state playoff games and 78 on the season, but stifled in the second half by a Westminster defense that allowed little room for movement and seemed to be one step ahead of the Falcons.

With less than two minutes to play in the game, the Falcons seemingly found the break they needed but Patino’s direct kick was cleared over the crossbar. Flowery Branch would not threaten again for the remainder of the game.

With the win Westminster moves on to its third straight state championship game and will be attempting to win its third straight title.

Flowery Branch’s season is complete.

The Falcons’ senior class leaves having amassed a 51-20 overall record in their four years at Flowery Branch while making it to the state semifinals twice and the state title game once.

"The whole season it’s been back and forth," Purdy said, "and we’ve fought extremely hard and the guys have just been great. Our role players have stepped up and that says a lot about our team."