The game certainly didn’t start the way the Calhoun boys would’ve liked on Wednesday night, but it sure did end well for the Jackets.
Despite getting down 1-0 after an early Rabun County goal, Calhoun responded in impressive fashion, scoring four unanswered goals to win 4-1 and advance to the Class AA Elite Eight.
The Jackets (18-2), the Region 7-AA champions, will now host Atkinson County in the third round on Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Sonoraville Recreation Complex. Atkinson County defeated Thomasville on Wednesday. (For details from that game, see Wednesday’s Calhoun Times.)
“We’re thrilled to be able to move on and play another game,” said Calhoun coach Matt Rice. “We look at everything as a process, and we didn’t look ahead past Rabun County because they are a good team. We focused our attention on winning this game, and now that it’s done we can start to prepare for what’s next.”
For video highlights of the game, visit prepcentralonline.com.
After falling behind by a goal, the Jackets responded almost immediately to tie the game on a header from Javier Medina off an assist from Ludwin Fajardo. They took the lead later in the first half on a goal from Darwin Lom off an assist from Noe Martinez.
Calhoun found the back of the net two more times in the second half with Gabriel Garcia and Fajardo scoring goals. Lom assisted on Garcia’s goal.
“We had some guys fill different roles tonight, and that’s where our depth showed,” said Rice. “I think our depth was the difference in the game.
“I’m just proud of the team. After we got down, tied it and then took the lead in the first half, they came in at the half and completely forgot about the first half. They focused on the second half, and we really played well from then on.”
The Jackets would’ve been even deeper on Wednesday, but they were playing without one of their starters, center midfielder Brayan Forcado, who was serving a mandatory suspension due to a red card in the first round against Wesleyan.
After the early goal, the Calhoun defense led by goalkeeper Raul Moreno and defenders Martinez, Fajardo, Brandon Blaylock, David Rios dug in and didn’t allow another good chance all night for Rabun County.
“We’ve played 20 games now, and we have 15 shutouts so our defense is a big part of what we do,” said Rice. “We’ve got good leadership, a quality goalkeeper and some great defenders.”
Almost everyone on the team got in for the Jackets in the win. Rice said it’s important to have so many guys that can play quality minutes.
“We’ve not only got good position players, but we have a really good team,” said Rice. “We’ve got guys that can step in different roles. They can perform in different ways.”
This will be the second straight trip to the Elite Eight for the Jackets as they advanced this far last season before falling to Blessed Trinity, 3-1.
The Calhoun boys are the lone local soccer team remaining in the postseason as the Calhoun girls and Sonoraville boys were both eliminated in the first round last Friday. The Jackets defeated Wesleyan, 4-0, in the first round.
NOTE: Despite having the home-field advantage on Wednesday, the Jackets didn’t exactly play on their home field. The game was played at the Sonoraville Recreation Complex in front of a large, energetic crowd due to flooding at the Calhoun River Soccer Complex, where Calhoun normally plays their home games.