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Panthers out of soccer playoffs after double OT loss

Ole Brook’s fantastic soccer season ended in a double overtime loss Monday night, as Pearl River Central kicked the Panthers out of the 5A playoffs 6-4.

A 4-4 tie survived the game and the first overtime, but the Blue Devils managed a goal late in the second overtime. With time running out, the Panthers shifted to an 11-man offense in an attempt to score a desperation goal, but the attempt fell short when PRC broke into a defenseless field for a last-second goal to win 6-4.

“It’s a heartbreaker,” said BHS coach Aaron Ayers. “We made some key mistakes of not clearing the ball as soon or just miscommunication on our part. On a couple of those it bounced right to them and they were able to kick it in. They’re a great team, but it was more just us not capitalizing and making mistakes.”

Ole Brook was dominant in the first half, scoring at the 33:50 mark and again at 6:35 to lead 2-0 at the break. But PRC woke up and outscored the Panthers 4-2 in the second half after sensing a Brookhaven weakness in the middle and adjusting their offense.

The first overtime was a wash, but the Blue Devils came by a fifth goal honestly and stole the back-breaking sixth score in garbage time.

Senior Logan Emfinger scored two of Ole Brook’s four goals, while juniors Corey Patterson and Raphael Suvillano picked up the other two.

Ole Brook exits the 5A playoffs in the first round after going 15-6 in the regular season, including 5-1 in Region 6-5A.

“Overall, this is probably, in my opinion, the best Ole Brook soccer team we’ve ever had come through here,” Ayers said. “We beat a 6A school this season, beat several other 5A schools and won district and hosted the playoffs three times in a row. I couldn’t be more proud of my seniors.”

The Panthers will have to rebuild the team in 2018/19 after losing 12 players to graduation this spring.

“We have a few starters returning. Next year’s success is really going to start with summer workouts, bringing the younger guys in and training them up as soon as possible,” Ayers said.

Emfinger said the younger players have to do more than just practice to keep Ole Brook soccer at its current heights — they have to bond.

“When I first started, we all bonded and became friends, came together and got better over the years,” he said. “The program is in really good shape right now. Next year’s guys have to put in the practice and not give up. They have to go at it, hard.”