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Perennial power Greenbrier up next for Effingham County boys

SPRINGFIELD — The Effingham County boys soccer team has punched its ticket to the Class AAAAAA tournament and it’s first-round stop is a tough one.

After finishing third in Region 2-AAAAAA, the Rebels will hit the road Friday to face Greenbrier in Evans. The 12-5 Wolfpack has a handful of college-bound players and a stellar soccer tradition.

“From what I know, they are very good as always,” Rebels head coach Matthew Vickery said. “They are normally in the Final 4 or Elite 8 every year. They have a senior-laden team.

“From what I understand, they have a couple DI players and a couple DII players. They just left the Nike Cup in Charleston (S.C.). From what I’ve heard, they are very good.”

The Rebels are looking to rebound after closing the regular season in disappointing fashion. In their last five games, they collected one win, three losses and a tie.

Vickery’s spirits have not been deflated despite the difficult stretch.

“We won against Brunswick,” he said. “I thought we played better against Brunswick than we had been playing. (We lost to) Glynn Academy, which is ranked second in the state, and Richmond Hill, which beat us 1-0, and they just beat Glynn 4-0. I would put them in the same classification at Greenbrier. 

“Those losses didn’t demoralize me too much. We lost 2-0 to Benedictine but, most importantly, we had a couple guys out and we are hoping to get them back. If we can knock the ball around a little bit better and be a little bit more physical, we would stand a better chance.

“I don’t feel we are playing our best soccer right now. We have work to do before next Friday.”

And those two key weapons that have been missing in action are Zach Thomas and Cole Oliver, who are nursing injuries. Their availability for Greenbrier isn’t guaranteed so the Rebels will forge and try to play tight defense.

“Playing together, sticking to the plan and sustaining the plan for 80 minutes,” Vickery said in this team’s focus going into the tournament. “The game plan would be to try to knock the ball around enough against Greenbrier to create some possession and get them on the counter but also be very physical and do that for 80 minutes so we can have a chance to beat a really good team. It would be really good for our program.”