WARNER ROBINS — A pair of top 10 nationally ranked teams met at Houston County on Wednesday night in the boys GHSA Region 2-AAAAA soccer championship game and produced a match that few in the large crowd will forget for a very long time.
After ending regulation and overtime tied at 3, Houston County outlasted Greenbrier 9-8 on penalty kicks to pull out a dramatic win and secure the No. 1 seed in the Class AAAAA playoffs.
“I’ve never gone that deep (in penalty kicks) before,” Houston County head coach Jason Kirk said. “No one was missing. Usually when you get that deep, one or two guys have missed, but it was just crazy.”
Regulation was a tale of two halves.
Steven Moore put the Bears up 1-0 less than four minutes in before scoring twice more in the span of three minutes later in the half to record yet another hat trick in his career and give Houston County a seemingly comfortable 3-0 edge.
Greenbrier pulled one back with just 24 seconds remaining before the half and carried all of the momentum through the break. The Wolf Pack changed formations and went to three forwards up top which resulted in constant pressure on the Houston County defense.
“We didn’t put them away when he had a couple of chances,” Kirk said.
Bears freshman keeper Michael Koohang, who was inserted at halftime for Declan Furlough, surrendered two goals on miscommunications at the back to tie the game before Furlough re-entered.
Neither team scored during the two extra time periods to set up the dramatics in penalty kicks.
Furlough had a chance to save the first two Greenbrier shots only to see them trickle through his hands and into the net, but the sophomore stayed focused.
“You just have to get your mind over it and forget about it,” Furlough said. “You got so close the first two times that you can definitely get the other ones and that’s all I was thinking.”
The teams went back-and-forth through six more rounds before Esteban Morales scored for the Bears in round nine to bring up Garrett Smith for the Wolf Pack.
Smith paused on his approach to the ball and then shot low to his left, but Furlough was all over it and kicked the ball away to secure the victory and keep Houston County unbeaten on the season.
“I always decide a way to go beforehand judging by his body language,” Furlough said. “I knew right away that (the shot) was going to be mine.”
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