NASHVILLE — With his team trailing 2-1 at halftime on the road to Berrien County in the first round of the GHSA Class AA state soccer playoffs, Southeast Bulloch High coach Bob Massee told his team the offense would come through in the second half.
Massee’s speech proved prophetic as the Jackets scored six goals in the final 40 minutes, more than they had scored in any entire game during the regular season, and defeated Berrien 7-3 on Friday. With the victory, SEB moves onto play Pike County, the top seed out of Region 4-AA, who defeated Brantley County also on Friday.
The Jackets will travel to play Pike, which is located in Zebulon, about 40 miles northwest of Macon, in the second round on Wednesday.
“We hit the post four times and controlled the play except for two breakdowns in the first half,” Massee said. “I was confident we would score some goals. Now I can’t say I thought we’d score six, but we started clicking.”
SEB worked several scoring chances in the first 20 minutes, but couldn’t score. At the 19:49 mark, Berrien jumped on top 1-0 with a boot past keeper Riley Dinkins. But SEB got even about two minutes later when leading scorer Doug Flott headed in a throw in from Drew Ware.
Berrien scored at the 7:43 mark to take a 2-1 lead into halftime and that’s when Massee told his team the offense would convert its chances in the second half.
SEB wasted little time as Cam Duncan scored three minutes into the second half following another throw in from Ware. He controlled the throw and then booted it past the Berrien keeper.
The score off Ware’s throw in was the sixth goal this season directly resulting from Ware’s special talent.
“Drew’s throw ins are a weapon I have never seen in all my years in soccer,” Massee said.
Ware said he has always had strong arms for the two-handed toss.
“It’s something we work on and still catch teams by surprise,” he said.
After Duncan’s goal, sophomore midfielder Sean Healy put the Jackets ahead to stay two minutes later. Taking a crossing pass, Healy headed the ball hard past the goalie.
The teams played even for the next 10 minutes and then sophomore Flott took over. Using his speed and balance, Flott was able to control the ball around and through several defenders to score two goals within five minutes and give SEB a commanding 5-2 lead with 20 minutes to play.
Senior Kirk Brown, who scored the first goal of his career in the final regular season win over ECI, added his first playoff goal a few minutes later to put SEB up 6-2.
Duncan closed the scoring with his second goal of the game, heading in a corner kick from Healy.
“We’re going to enjoy this win right now for just a couple of minutes and then get back to work,” Massee said. “Our motto is ‘Don’t settle’ and we’re not going to settle for being satisfied with just a first-round win. I’m very proud of the team for how hard they have worked and how far they have come. And we’re not done yet.”
James Healy can be reached at (912) 489-9402.