Down 2-0, Westover boys soccer rallies to win state playoff opener

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

FORSYTH -- With two losses to Mary Persons in the last two years, Westover boys community soccer coach Greg Brown had seen this movie before -- and unfortunately, he knew how it ended.

So when the Patriots fell behind, 2-0, in the second half during their GHSA Class AAA state playoff opener Thursday, Brown decided he'd seen enough.

Thanks to a switch that brought reigning Herald Player of the Year Danny Brown -- the coach's son -- forward to play more on offense, the Patriots rallied from two goals down in the second half to win their opener, 4-2, thanks to two scores by Mr. Clutch himself.

"Oh, man -- it feels great," said Danny, who has now scored 26 goals this season to help lead Westover further than it's been in the state playoffs since 2005. "We were really playing bad at first, but we got it together, scored two quick goals and it just progressed from there. (Mary Persons) looked pretty stunned. They were definitely pretty (upset)."

One guy who wasn't upset was coach Brown, who felt Westover -- which also got goals Thursday from Bridger Ferrell and Peter Morton -- should've beaten Mary Persons two years ago, and then again last year, when both their regular-season games ended in a tie and a loss, respectively.

On Thursday, however, it was his strategic coaching move made sure revenge was Westover's.

"We were being lazy. We weren't winning 50-50 balls and we were making passes with our heads down," said Greg, who got onto his team for their sloppy play at halftime, even though Westover only trailed, 1-0. "So when we came out and (Mary Persons) scored another goal to put us down 2-nil, I'd seen enough. I moved Danny up, we attacked and in 25 minutes we scored four goals. We just devastated their defense.

"This win really feels great and the kids are so happy."

Goal No. 1 came shortly after Mary Persons, the No. 2 seed, made it 2-0. Westover's Gavin Parr lofted a perfectly placed cross in front of the Mary Persons' goal as Danny Brown took the pass out of the air for his first goal. The Patriots then tied the game less than five minutes later when Sager Patel was knocked hard to the ground by the Mary Persons goalie, prompting a penalty kick, which Ferrell converted to make it 2-2.

"We just saw their flaws and took advantage," Danny said. "I'd watched them the whole first half back on defense, so I knew what we needed to do."

Once tied, Danny then added No. 2, to make it 3-2, and Morton, who was moved back to defense during the switch and shut the Pats' opponent down from there, added the final goal to seal the win. Blake Farmer was also credited with an assist during Westover's scoring frenzy.

"After going down, 2-0," began Greg Brown, "we just dominated."

Westover now turns its attention to Tuesday -- the Patriots' second-round game against an opponent yet to be determined.

But for the time being Thursday, Danny Brown and Co. were basking in what ended up being both a thrilling, and monumental win for the program.

So much so, the team tried to convince the coaches to take them to the Olive Garden after the game as a reward for their victory.

"We'll drive by the Olive Garden, but we're not stopping," Greg laughed. "It's McDonald's tonight -- but maybe next week."