Brandywine nips Buchanan in tourney opener

Published 7:44 am Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Brandywine's Dominic Stella (15) splits a pair of Buchanan defenders during Monday’s Lakeland Conference Tournament match. (Leader photo/KELLY SWEENEY)

Brandywine’s Dominic Stella (15) splits a pair of Buchanan defenders during Monday’s Lakeland Conference Tournament match. (Leader photo/KELLY SWEENEY)

BUCHANAN — The Brandywine boys soccer team didn’t make school history Monday against Buchanan.

But what the Bobcats accomplished in the Lakeland Conference Tournament was pretty significant.

Brandywine surprised Buchanan, 1-0, marking the first time in four years that the Bobcats had beaten the Bucks.

In two regular season matches, Buchanan beat Brandywine, 4-1 and 7-1.

The Bobcats, which improved to 6-13, advance to play either Bridgman or Cassopolis for the tournament title on Wednesday.

“It’s just the greatest feeling right now to beat them after they beat us twice,” said Brandywine goalie Brock Hartline, who finished with eight saves.

“Today was amazing,” said Brandywine coach Evan Winkler. “I don’t know what to say. They’ve worked so hard and it’s nice to have a win like this to reward them. I’m just so proud of them. Our guys just played mentally tough.”

A move made by Winkler paid off.

“We made a big switch,” Winkler said. “We actually moved Blake (Lerner), who had been playing forward all year, back to (defense). I think that really stabilized our defense. It gave us a lot more confidence.

“We played awful last week too (in losses to Coloma and South Bend Trinity by a combined score of 16-1) and I didn’t know what to expect today. We didn’t look like we wanted it (last week). We had bad body language.”

Brandywine brought a far different attitude to its match on Monday. The Bobcats were excited coming to the sidelines at halftime. Despite being outshot, 12-1 over the first 40 minutes, the match was scoreless.

“In the first half we played good, but I still wasn’t sure yet because last time we played them it was 2-1 at half and then they blew us away in the first 10 minutes,” Winkler said.

There was no repeat performance on Monday by Bucks as the Bobcats got the first three shots on goal in the second half.

Buchanan eventually outshot Brandywine, 10-6, in the second half, but the Bobcats came through with the biggest shot off the leg of Dominic Stella.

Stella’s goal from 10 yards out with 14:45 left in the match turned out to be the game-winner.

It’s Stella’s third goal of the year. He also has nine assists.

“The one before that on the cross I just barely missed it,” said Stella. “I knew I had to put one in. I buckled down and put one in. That assists are great, but you’ve got to put them in crucial times like that. It feels good.”

As the minutes ticked off the clock in the second half, Winkler sensed an exciting ending.

“After that first 10 to 15 minutes (in the second half on Monday) I was thinking whoever was going to score was probably going to win,” Winkler said. “We got that huge goal by Stella. It was amazing. He’s been working so hard all year and he’s really wanted score and he put one in today. Just a great goal.”

Three minutes after Stella scored, Buchanan’s A.J. Reed had a shot hit the left post. Hartline had two saves over the final three minutes.

“I was just glad that the shots weren’t too hard and that I was able to get to them quick,” Hartline said.

“Brock’s been amazing all year,” Winkler said. “He’s only played goalie for a year and a half. He made some huge saves in there tonight.”

Buchanan coach Brian Pruett was asked if his team overlooked Brandywine.

“It’s hard to beat someone three times,” said Pruett, whose team stands at 11-6-2. “Even though we beat them the first two games, they were still in the game for a half. They are a good team. I don’t know if my guys overlooked them. I just know (Brandywine) came ready to play.

“We had a lot of shots and opportunities. We just couldn’t finish. Their goalie stepped up well. Coach Winkler did a nice job changing his defense up.”





Halftime score

Brandywine 0, Buchanan 0


Second half

BW – Dominic Stella 14:45


Shots on goal

Brandywine 7

Buchanan 22



Brock Hartline (BR) 8

Cade Vargo (BU) 6


Corner kicks

Brandywine 4

Buchanan 1