The Frederica Academy boys, who finished 7th in the GISA Class 3A playoffs after a 7-5-1 record, opened their post-season run on Tuesday with a 7-3 win over the 10th-ranked set Augusta Prep Day School.
Frederica started the game under a lot of pressure.
The Knights tried to get the ball up the field quickly and fired their first shot of the game after 30 seconds when Bryce Reilly just missed the frame of the goal.
Reilly and his Knights teammates wouldn’t stop there, earning a corner four minutes later and controlling the game at their pace.
Augusta Prep thought they had a shot at a one-on-one shot, but a recovery from Jacob Leonard prevented the Cavaliers from scoring.
In the 28th minute, Frederica scored the first goal after Max Byrd failed to convert his one-on-one chance, but a shot saved kept the ball clear in the middle of the 6-yard box. Reilly controlled the ball through three Cavalier defenders and refined his shot into the bottom right corner to give the Knights a 1-0 lead.
Minutes later, Reilly scored his second goal after Frederica sent an over-the-top ball through Augusta’s back line. While Reilly sprinted to control the ball, Blake Holloway stayed step by step with his teammate as a secondary option. Reilly controlled the ball and after some dribbles, Reilly placed his shot down the left side of goal, giving the Knights a 2-0 lead.
“He’s my dark horse,” said Frederica head coach Danielle Sunderhaus. “He was my hitting gun, so to speak. He was phenomenal in the first half. He switched him, he hasn’t played at the top all season. We put him in front and scoring two goals straight away was great to see.”
Augusta Prep started his comeback when Pedro Beltrami sneaked his shot under sweeping Xavier Preston and scored Augusta Prep’s first goal of the night.
The Cavaliers tied the game with less than 10 minutes to go when a tackle in Frederica’s box allowed a penalty against Augusta. Beltrami stepped forward to take the PK and placed his shot on the bottom right.
Seeing a two-goal lead quickly disappear, Byrd restored a one-goal lead for the Knights when he placed his shot through the legs of Augusta’s goaltender.
“I think what happened was we scored two goals straight away and then I think we got a little complacent there for a while,” Sunderhaus said. “We then showed a lot of heart when we came back and were 3-2 up at half-time. After halftime and realizing: ‘Okay, we have to play one-two and how to get past a high holding line. It’s good. If we can go into the next game and play with some tenacity, breadth and heart, I think we’ll be fine.
In the second half, the Knights came out just as they had in the first, with tenacity.
Leonard started the game on the defensive line and moved up to play as a forward, and within three minutes he grabbed a brace to take the Knight’s lead to 5-2.
Even with a large lead, the Knights had to assert themselves defensively in key situations. The first was a goal-line clearance from Daniel McHugh to hold the game 5-2.
Augusta Prep continued to push the field down by drawing fouls outside the box, but to no avail they were able to take a chance on a set piece.
Never slowing down, Frederica scored his sixth goal of the night when Holloway fired his left foot shot at the near post.
Augusta Prep pulled another free kick just outside the 18 yard box with Sunderhaus directing her wall to hold the 18′ and stay connected during the free kick. As the ball sailed over the frame of the goal, Frederica had one last goal creation in her.
After scoring the game’s first two goals, Reilly dribbled his way across the field to the touchline before delivering a cross into the center of the box for Holloway, who headed in the perfect scoring sequence for the Knights’ seventh and final goal of the night.
“He’s fearless,” Sunderhaus said of Holloway. “He’s the only player I can always count on to just go for it. He doesn’t think about the other player and he’s just laser focused, he sees the goal, he sees the ball and he’s trying to score.”
Augusta Prep scored a final goal with six and a half minutes to go when Sam Connell found his shot went into the net.
With a convincing 7-3 win in the first round of the playoffs, Frederica (8-5-1) travels to Atlanta to take on the second-placed Holy Spirit Prep Cougars (13-3-1).