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Ferguson’s four goals lift Brooke in Class AAA semifinal

WELLSBURG — The Brooke boys soccer team kept its foot on the gas.

Brooke, the No. 2 seed, led for the majority of the game against third-seeded John Marshall, as the Bruins defeated the Monarchs, 8-2, in a Class AAA Region 1, Section 1 semifinal Tuesday night on Paul “Bud” Billiard Field inside Brooke Memorial Stadium.

“We had a little bit of a nightmare flashback, but we came right back and we were able to stay ahead,” Brooke (7-11-2) head coach Joe Pepe said. “Take nothing away from John Marshall. They did not quit. They came out ready to play. We moved the ball better. We are jelling at the right time. We are going to go on to the next game and see what happens.

“We are proud of these kids. They did not quit. After they scored, our kids knew they had to do it. They went out and got the goal right back. We were able to score the counter goal. We were able to quickly score after they scored.”

Last season, the Monarchs rallied from a multiple-goal deficit to force overtime against the Bruins in the semifinals. But, this season, John Marshall was unable to keep pace with Brooke.

“Last year, we were down 3-1, and we came back to tie it and we took it from there,” John Marshall (5-10-1) head coach Jesus Marin said. “This year, they were prepared for the push we made. They were able to score right away. They were able to stop our push. They scored early in the second half.

“They are a good team. They killed us with their passing. They passed the ball well. We were forced to chase the ball.”

With the win, Brooke will now play No. 1 seed Wheeling Park in the sectional final Thursday on the road. The game is currently scheduled to start at 6 p.m., though the start may be pushed back.

“Wheeling Park is a senior-dominated team,” Pepe said. “They have been playing together for four years. They have like nine starters who are seniors. They work well together. Wheeling Park is well schooled.”

John Ferguson finished with four goals and one assist to lead the way for the Bruins, while Liam Cronin contributed two goals and an assist. Juan Gotor Blanes tallied a goal and an assist, Nick Cekinovich collected a goal and Hunter Adams and Blaise Buchmelter each delivered two assists. Alex Isinghood added one assist.

Brooke used two goalies. Andrew Coursin and Jacob Gilchrist each made two saves.

Gabe Howrath tallied both goals for the Monarchs. John Marshall also used two goalies. Brennen Daniels started in the net and made 10 saves, while Gabe Carman made one.

After Ferguson scored to give Brooke a 1-0 lead with 37:25 remaining in the first half, Howarth answered for John Marshall with his first goal with 34:21 left on the clock to tie the score.

“They have speed up top,” Pepe said. “They tried to feed him the ball. That is how they got their first goal. On the second goal, we made a couple of mistakes. We only have one senior on the team. The kids are learning. This is a learning experience for them.”

The tie did not last long. Ferguson quickly answered right back for the Bruins as the lone senior on the roster scored eight seconds later to regain the lead for the hosts at 2-1.

“We just didn’t have enough,” Marin said. “We implemented a different formation for this game. We were left with one guy up top. We tried to take advantage of our speed. If you looked at our offense, we only had one guy in the middle and not two. That hurt our ability to create opportunities. They were able to take advantage of that.”

Brooke built a 6-1 lead in the second half before Howrath scored again.

“We have been passing well,” Pepe said. “We have been working on our passing. We have been passing well. We have worked on our passing at practice. We have been taking a look and finding the open people.”

John Marshall played the final 28:51 a man down after Kohlton Kocker received a red card.

“We are graduating 10 seniors,” Marin said. “Next year, what you saw at the end of the game will be our team next year. We will have new kids. We will be mostly freshmen and sophomores. We will have a couple of seniors. It will be a rebuilding year next year.”

The Bruins enter their game against the Patriots playing some of their best soccer of the season.

“I do like the way we are playing,” Pepe said. “Coach Dan (Shorts) have been working with them. We like the way we are playing. Hopefully, we will go down there and prevail. We will try. No matter what happens, we will not get down on ourselves. Wheeling Park is a tough team. That is why they are 18-1.”

Wheeling Park shut out Brooke, 7-0, on the road during the regular season.

“I want to congratulate Brooke,” Marin said. “They played well. I wish them good luck against Wheeling Park.”

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