Pride of the pitch

By Staff
Brewer boys defeat Decatur 4-2 in Morgan County Tournament final
Justin Schuver, Hartselle Enquirer
DECATUR – In soccer terms, it's called a free kick, but the Patriots still had to earn it.
Eight minutes into the Morgan County championship game at Jack Allen Soccer Complex Monday, Decatur took a penalty and gave Brewer a free kick opportunity near the Raiders' goal. Brewer's Kohl Sowder sent the kick in toward the goal and Eric Vallejo deflected it in to open the scoring and send the Patriots on their way to a 4-2 win.
It was Brewer's first Morgan County championship and a moment of retribution for the Patriots, who lost 2-1 to Decatur in an earlier tournament game.
"I'm so proud of my guys," Brewer coach Michael Drinkard said. "In our first game, Decatur came out and whupped us, but this time we came out ready to play."
The Patriots' 1-0 lead stood up at halftime as tournament MVP Sawyer McLemore made several strong saves with Decatur dominating the offensive flow in the first half. His best save came on a left-to-right cross from Decatur's Joseph Salgado. McLemore read the play and quickly moved to his right to rob Raul Alanis on a point-blank shot. He ended the game with 24 saves.
"I felt like my first half was probably the best game I've played all season," McLemore said.
The Patriots opened the second half with two quick goals and looked to have the game well in hand. In the 47th minute, Decatur goalkeeper Andrew Wenzler misjudged the ball and Brewer's Justin Reed put it in the back of the vacated net. Three minutes later, the Patriots increased their lead when Jake Wanschek took a corner kick, sending the arcing ball into the box where Kohl Sowder was there to head it in the net.
The Red Raiders wouldn't go away quietly, however. Decatur switched keepers, bringing in Brandon Rudd to replace Wenzler, and the switch seemed to give the Raiders life as they scored two unanswered goals. Raul Alanis found the upper-right corner in the 55th minute and Michael Alfano bounced a shot off the right post and into the net in the 62nd minute.
"I don't blame myself for those goals nor do I blame my defense," McLemore said. "They were just great shots by great players."
During most of the game, the Red Raiders dominated offensive flow and Brewer tried to occasionally spring a quick counter-attack. Finally, in the 64th minute, the Patriots finally succeeded.
Reed made a perfect pass to split the Decatur defense and catch Jeremy Talley breaking in alone toward the goal. Talley made a little hesitation move to freeze Rudd and then sent it in off the left post.
"Decatur had possession for most of the game, but we were able to take advantage of their mistakes and executed well when we got the opportunity," Talley said.
Decatur continued to put the pressure on the Patriots, but could not get any closer. The Raiders had an excellent chance to score late in the second half when a shot got away from McLemore, but Brewer's Casey Wanschek was there to kick the ball out of bounds and out of harm's way.
Decatur also had a chance in the final minute when Tom Gray came in unmarked but McLemore was up to the task and made a save on Gray from point-blank range.
Earlier games Monday:
Brewer 1, Priceville 0
Kyle Downs' goal came late in the second half of a hard-fought game that sent the Patriots into the championship final. Jeremy Talley had an assist on the goal.
Hartselle 4, West Morgan 0
Zack Woodruff had two goals for the Tigers, who could have advanced to the tournament final if Brewer's game had ended in a 0-0 tie. Matt Walker and Stephen Owen also scored for Hartselle.

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