MACON—Oconee County High School boys soccer team knocked down the last of the obstacles to reach high school soccer immortality Saturday night at Five Star Stadium on the Mercer University campus.
The Warriors defeated the team that held the No. 1 ranking in the Euroscoreboard.com poll from the moment the season began as they bested unbeaten Upson-Lee High School 1-0 to win the program’s first state championship.
Owen Hallauer sent the ball over the head of the ULHS goalkeeper for the only goal of the game with a little over 26 minutes remaining in the first half.
It was the first goal scored on the Knights since April 5. Over the next 66 minutes, the Warriors survived. They endured multiple breakaways by the Knights, a few shots that hit posts and another late save by senior goalkeeper Hunter Andrews, who tipped a late shot over the post with about three minutes remaining in the game as the Knights frantically made their last run at the Class 4A title.
As the clock expired, Warriors’ head coach Chris Romano had the perfect formula to earn the win on Saturday.
The Warriors got a goal from their leading scorer and then their stingy defense and veteran goalkeeper was allowed to defend the throne for the last hour plus of game time.
The formula of Hallauer attacking, strong defense and timely goalkeeping has been the Warriors’ fuel all season long.
“It is fitting,” Romano said. “Owen scores the early goal and then the defense just one after the other keeps clearing it all the way down to two minutes, and Hunter pushes a corner kick over the crossbar that just sealed it. I think that’s been our MO. It was a team effort.”
Saturday almost didn’t happen.
For more on this story, see the May 23 edition of The Oconee Enterprise, on sale now at convenience stores and grocery stores and newspaper boxes throughout Oconee County. To subscribe, go to oconeeenterprise.com or call (706) 769-5175.