The East Hamilton boys soccer team edged Howard 2-1 in the Division I-AA Region 2 semi-final on Tuesday in a game played at UTC's intramural fields.
Both teams created chances in the opening minutes of the match, but it was East Hamilton who scored first after being awarded a free-kick. Midfielder, Brandon White, lined up his shot and produced a world class finish. His curling free-kick kissed the crossbar on its way into the net to give the Canes a 1-0 lead.
Howard had the majority of possession and created more scoring opportunities in the first half, but the final pass and shot in the waning seconds of the first half missed.
The second half started with Howard dominating possession again. Midway through the half, the Tigers got their chance. Senior forward, Yefri Baltazar, drew a foul in the box and won his side a penalty kick. Baltazar stepped up and placed his shot low to the left and sent the keeper the wrong way to level things up at 1-1.
Just a few minutes later, East Hamilton responded when midfielder, Hank Smallwood, played a beautiful forward pass to Alen Karajic who slotted his shot into the bottom left corner to restore the Cane’s lead.
“He (Karajic) is a critical part of our midfield.” said East Hamilton head coach Patrick Daverson. “His height draws a lot of attention and that allows for others to be open and he finds them.”
East Hamilton nearly doubled their lead late in the match when they had a shot cleared off the line, then headed against the crossbar and followed by a volley that was once again denied by the crossbar, all in the six yard box within a span of a couple seconds. The Canes managed the clock well down the stretch and held on to win a close one 2-1.
Howard’s season ended in disappointment, but head coach Jose Otero was optimistic and is excited for the future.
“We have a brand new stadium being built for next year and it is going to be called The Tiger Den. We are going to need something to motivate us next year, and I think having a brand new home field will give us what need. We have a great future at Howard.” Said head coach Otero.
East Hamilton will travel to Sequoyah on Thursday to play in the region final, a district championship rematch.