CONCORD — Imagine the surprise felt by the Concord boys soccer team Saturday when the visiting Gastonia Ashbrook Green Wave accomplished something no other Spiders opponent has in more than three weeks: score a goal.
Not only was the goal a shocker, but the amount of time it took — fewer than three minutes into the game — forced Concord to play from behind. So after Daniel Hines’ chip shot slipped past Spiders goalkeeper Emmanuel Konneh for that early deficit, all was right in the world again.
Concord went on to dominate Ashbrook, controlling possessions and limiting the Green Wave to a handful of shots, as Carson Trott’s three goals led the Spiders to a 4-1 second-round victory in the Class 3A state playoffs.
Trott also recorded a hat trick in Concord’s first-round triumph over Hickory St. Stephens last Wednesday.
“There was no need to yell at (the players) or anything like that,” said Concord coach Todd Tinsley. “We always say, ‘If they’re going to score, they might as well score in the first minute. At least we know it’s there.’
“We hadn’t been scored on in five games,” Tinsley added. “So tonight, them scoring right away really let us know we had to play.”
Today, Concord, whose 23-1-2 record is already the best in school history, will play host to Asheville Reynolds in a third round matchup. Winning two playoff games matches the program’s deepest postseason run, first accomplished by the 2016 team.
Ashbrook (12-4-3), the West’s 15th seed, reached E.Z. Smith Field a little more than 30 minutes before game time. It certainly didn’t have a negative effect, as the Green Wave controlled the game’s first three minutes, prohibiting second-seeded Concord from crossing into its offensive side of the field.
The Green Wave collected all three of its first-half corner kicks and all three of its first-half shots during this opening stretch.
Ashbrook’s first shot came near the end of the first minute when Jayden Dixon found open space on the right side of the net near the goal line. He elevated a shot, but Konneh sharply deflected it with both forearms raised.
Ashbrook’s goal started with a throw in from the right side close to midfield. Rene Morales controlled possession on the left side as he pushed upfield.
He lined a nice crossing pass to Hines, who was unguarded in front of the goal. Hines had options and chose to poke a shot to the left of the net. There was little Konneh could do.
It was only the third goal Concord has allowed in its last 10 games. For the season, the Spiders have permitted just 14 goals in 26 games.
“Things went back to normal (after the goal),” said Konneh, a senior whose playing his first season in goal. “My defense and midfield started playing great. We have a great team, so once we messed up first, we knew how to comeback.”
It took the Spiders eight minutes to retaliate, as Trott initiated and completed the team’s first scoring play. First, he bounced a corner kick from the left side through the goal box without it reaching a teammate.
The Spiders’ Alexander Mondragon gained control of it near the right corner and eased a pass to Michael Cicci, who arched a high shot back to the left side of the goal. Ashbrook keeper Jared Hernandez couldn’t track it down, but Trott did and patiently chipped it in.
“I’ve had a few of those actually this season where I just kind of wait around,” said Trott, a senior. “I’m at the back. I’m the garbage man, so I look around and see what happens in the play and read the play and go make an attack on the ball.”
In the 23rd minute, Concord’s Carlos Alvarez collected a loose ball about 10 yards in front of right post and angled a shot that beat Hernandez on the left side for a 2-1 lead.
About five minutes later, Alvarez got tripped from behind by an Ashbrook player, and the Spiders were awarded a penalty kick. As he often does, Trott stepped up to take the shot, and he gently pushed his 14th goal of the season to the right corner of the goal as Hernandez broke left.
Trott closed the game’s scoring in the 24th minute of the second half when he scored on a similar penalty kick. Concord’s defense — anchored by Cicci, Celso Quiterio, Javier Ortiz and Christian Kushmal — limited Ashbrook’s second-half scoring chances to a couple of wide-sailing shots.
Ashbrook 1 0 — 1
Concord 3 1 — 4
Ashbrook: Daniel Hines
Concord: Carson Trott 3, Carlos Alvarez