By Ernest Stone
Prior to Drew School and Lick-Wilmerding’s Bay Counties League West first-round playoff meeting, Lick had a win and a draw against the Dragons in regular season play, with the win coming in a 5-0 blowout.
Yet, as is the case at times with playoff contests, the unexpected unfolded, resulting in a 3-0 win for the fifth-seeded Dragons (6-11-1) on Monday at Crocker Amazon Playground.
“We have a really young team, so it took a while to get everything in motion,” said Drew head coach Jeff Ramos. “It’s at a point now where we continue to get better every game.”
The contrary was true of the fourth-seeded Tigers (8-7-2), who fell behind 1-0 when Drew forward Brandon Naraghi found the back of the net in the 20th minute.
“They were a better team today,” said Lick head coach Matt Kurnick. “All year our team came out and looked different every game, one week we looked amazing, another we lacked concentration and intensity.”
In addition to being outplayed, the Tigers fell victim to some bizarre bad breaks.
In the 29th minute, a Brice Lockard free kick from 55 yards out stunned all onlookers when it squeaked in between the goal keeper and the crossbar to put the Dragons up 2-0.
Entering the second half with a two-goal deficit, the Tigers approached the game with an offensive mentality. Unfortunately, many solid attacks and shots were redirected by Drew senior goalkeeper Spencer Donaldson, who finished with nine saves.
“My defense deserves as much praise as anyone,” said Donaldson. “All the credit to Lick though, their crosses were right on point and I was kept on my feet all game.”
As the Dragon defense held Lick at bay, James Brandon added a third goal in the 74th minute to seal the win.
While Lick exits this year’s postseason earlier than it would have liked, the Tigers return multiple starters headed into next season.
The next order of business for Drew is top-seeded Marin Academy in the league semifinals. The Wildcats are undefeated in league play, and while recent history doesn’t favor the Dragons, they have proven that the playoffs are a time to start fresh.
Stuart Hall 4, Urban 1
Although the game was stiffly contested and entered halftime with one goal separating the two teams, Stuart Hall scored three goals in a seven minute span during the second half to put the game away 4-1.
“We established a nice tempo early on, and adjusted to what they were doing in the second half,” said Stuart Hall head coach Antonio Villegas. “Most important though was the way Connor Bottom got himself out of the slump he was in.”
Bottom corrected his struggles in grand fashion, scoring a hat trick in the win.
“We missed a big finish early in the second half, and after that the momentum shifted,” said Blues head coach Antony Reyes. “Then on the flip side, they went out and put away the opportunities we gave them.”
While the Knights looked impressive in their win on Monday, they will have to refocus for second-seeded University in the semifinals, which is 1-0-1 against them this season.