Ole Brook soccer sets school record heading into playoffs
Published 12:15 pm Tuesday, January 30, 2024
BROOKHAVEN — Ole Brook Boys Soccer set a school record for most wins in a season by beating Loyd Star 3-1 Monday night. The win puts the Panthers at 16-6 overall going into the playoffs where they will play East Central High School in the first round.
Head Coach Aaron Ayers said he was on the Brookhaven team that previously held the school record at 15 wins. Senior forward Michael Stewart scored two goals in the win and Ethen Lopez put the game to rest by scoring the third goal for Brookhaven.
“It feels great to beat my coach’s record. I’d rather have the record as a coach. I know it means a lot to my guys and to me feels more like an accomplishment,” Ayers said. “We have a lot of great players. My defensive guys have stepped up. We have the most shutouts we have ever had.”
Ole Brook has 16 shutouts in regular time although one of those shutouts was a loss on penalty kicks to Florence. Ayers said they are two shutout losses from finishing first in the district. As a result, they will travel and play a tough team like East Central in the first round of the playoffs.
Loyd Star gave a tough test for the Panthers Monday night. Senior Caden White scored the lone goal for the Hornets on a breakaway chance where Brookhaven’s goalkeeper and a defender collided. White calmly put away the loose ball.
Ayers told his team East Central would play a kick and chase style of soccer with a lot of direct balls down the middle of the field as Loyd Star does. The physical game helped keep the match sharpness as well.
“Loyd Star is similar to East Central. This is the best boys team they have ever had at Loyd Star. Playing a good team like Loyd Star helps us step up our game,” Ayers said. “It showed we were rusty. This made us play our “A” game and got us ready for the playoffs. The turning point for us tonight was connecting the second pass. Once we started to connect it opened stuff up a lot more.”
Loyd Star’s head coach Jordan Lea echoed similar points about getting ready for the playoffs. His side will have to play Magee in the first round at 1:30 p.m. Saturday and if they win that game they will likely end up facing one of the private high schools who dominate the lower classifications of MHSAA soccer. The first round match will be at home.
Fans might have seen growth in the Loyd Star boys over the season. Lea said they have developed a higher soccer IQ.Brookhaven is well coached and a loss to them should help the team learn and improve.
“It is good to have a slice of humble pie and to keep your mind right going into the playoffs,” Lea said. “The job isn’t done. I think you learn more when you lose. We will learn and be better.”