By Brian Paglia
As teammates mobbed Darion Copeland after his goal in the 46th minute, Dutchtown boys soccer coach Justin Smith pointed at the Bulldogs forward and smiled. Copeland's goal from 50 yards out at an angle had been a curving shot that hung in the air, deflected off the crossbar and went in.
"That was a real blast," Smith said.
It was a theatric goal that gave Dutchtown a three-goal cushion and seemingly left Luella stunned.
But not for long.
The Lions stormed back, scoring two goals in a span of five minutes to close their deficit to within one goal. They thought they had it tied, but Josh Cruz's third goal was not allowed; he was called for offsides.
Instead, Dutchtown (8-0-1, 4-0 Region 4-AAAA) hung on for a 4-3 victory at Luella (6-3, 4-1 Region 2-AAAAA) in a non-region game Monday night to remain undefeated, the only team in Henry County -- boys or girls -- to hold that distinction.
"Luella played great. They were a lot better than what I expected them to be," Smith said. "We made some mistakes, and they had enough speed up front to take advantage of it. It was back and forth and they gave us a good game."
That the contest ended as close as it did was as stunning as Copeland's second goal considering Dutchtown's fast start.
The Bulldogs didn't take long to produce its first quality chance. Twenty-eight seconds, in fact. Time enough for Zach Silva to knife through Luella's defense, ground a shot past Lions keeper Jacob Lunn and put the Bulldogs up 1-0.
Dutchtown's swift, confident attack engineered two more goals in the 30th and 31st minutes. First, by Copeland, who finished a low header by Judah Goodridge, and then Copeland served a low cross into the box that Goodridge found in the air and finished to give Dutchtown a 3-0 lead.
"They are as explosive two guys you could have up top," Smith said. "They have a ton of speed. They're very calm in front of the net, and with the system we play, that's what you have to have. You have to have very calm, very fast forwards."
To mount its comeback, Luella boys coach Nick Ellis turned to a forward of his own. He brought sophomore Josh Cruz into the game off the bench, and he was involved in each of Luella's three goals.
In the 38th minute he scored. Fourteen minutes later he assisted on a goal by Andrew Preston. Five minutes later, in the 57th minute, Cruz stumbled as he attacked the goal with possession, but he still managed to finish and pull the Lions within a goal with plenty of time left.
"Everytime he comes off the bench, he's been involved in something," Ellis said. "Whether he's put in a goal, put an assist in, or created the chaos that created the goal."
Luella girls 3, Dutchtown 1
Two second half goals within a span of two minutes propelled the Lady Lions to a non-region victory and extended their winning streak to four games.
Luella (7-2, 4-1 Region 2-AAAAA) got a goal from Kayla Millholland and another on a penalty kick by Naya Martin to put the Lady Lions up 3-0 by the 48th minute.
Missy Green scored in the 74th minute for Dutchtown (6-3, 4-1 Region 4-AAAA).
Savannah Roberts added a goal for Luella with an assist by Martin.