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U-15 stars win state title

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County team tops Pickens 2-1 for first crown

By Robert Howey

The Lancaster County Parks and Recreation Commission 15-under youth soccer all-stars made history at the recent state tournament.

The U-15 all-stars captured their first state championship for the program with a 2-1 win over Pickens at Manchester Meadows in Rock Hill on Saturday.

Pickens opened play with a 3-0 win over defending state champion Sumter to earn the chance to play Lancaster, which drew a bye.

Lancaster and Pickens battled to a scoreless draw at the half, but the Lancaster County stars ignited in the second half to post the state crown.

Striker Bobby Dukes scored a pair of goals off assists from Joseph Harris and Jordan Brookshire to put Lancaster on top.

“This was really a team effort because much credit goes to Kevin Jette, at center midfield, who controlled the offense,” Lancaster County U-15 coach Johnny Dukes said.

At the same time, Lancaster had a solid defensive game with sweeper Jose Murillo keying the play along with Carson McGinn, Denis Killoran and John Knight.

Pickens had four shots on goal, while Lancaster had 18 shots.

Keeper Chad Kizer notched the win with four great saves, according to Dukes, who was assisted by Williard Knight, Bart Smith and Kola George.

Dukes also saluted the wing play of striker Justin Sims, Will Armstrong, Kola George and Jonathan Smith.

“We also had our subs coming in and giving us outstanding play,” Dukes said of the support group of Kayla Christian, Devin Harris and Cole Bailey. “Our depth was strong and we didn’t lose anything when we worked players in and out of our lineup.

“We felt we dominated the match from the start,” Dukes said. “We had some near-misses on some shots in the first half, but were able to connect in the second half. We had seen Pickens play and we were confident in what we could do.”

Dukes guided his Dukes Eyecare team, which placed third in regular-season play, to the county title in the playoffs to give him the chance to coach the all-stars.

Dukes’ U-15 team included six players off the U-12 LCPRC all-star team which won the state title in 2006.

“The experience we gained in that tournament two years ago made a difference this time around,” Dukes said.

u The 10-under all-stars finished third in the state with a 3-1 win over North Myrtle Beach on Saturday at Manchester Meadows.

Corey Walters, Garrett Gerdes and Corey Lucas each scored a goal in the consolation match.

Lancaster County U-10 opened play, dropping a 4-3 loss to Beaufort. Austin Melvin, Logan Sowell and Gerdes each scored a goal.

The team was coached by Melvin Lucas, Joel Patterson and Wyatt Deese.

“A great deal of praise goes out to Wendy Patterson, our team mom who really took care of everything and made our jobs easier as far as the coaching goes,” Lucas said.

“The teams played hard and came up on the short end in the Beaufort match when they scored late to win,” said Hal Hiott, the LCPRC youth soccer coordinator.

u The 12-under all-stars, led by JoLynn Dougherty, also finished third, taking a 4-2 win in a shootout with North Myrtle Beach. Regulation ended in a 2-all draw to force overtime.

In the opening match, Lancaster County U-12 dropped a 3-2 loss to Sumter. Sumter took an early 2-0 lead, but Lancaster County rallied to tie the match at 2-all before Sumter pulled out the narrow win.”

“Those kids played real hard,” Hiott said. “They got down early, but came back and outplayed Sumter in the second half. They had a great effort, but couldn’t get over the hump.”

Jordon Szustwal scored two in the Sumter match. Szustwal and Alex Marculino scored in the shootout with NMB.

Chad Thomas  and  Skylar Ghent also tallied. Dougherty was assisted by Greg Jacob and Robert Reynolds.