ROEBUCK — Dorman made an early goal stand up under a spirited offensive assault by Blythewood, then scored again in the second half for a 2-0 victory Saturday night in the quarterfinals of the Class 4A playoffs.
The Cavaliers (20-2-1) play host to Mann, a 3-0 winner over Irmo, for the Upper State championship on Tuesday night.
“It was a tough game,” said Cavaliers coach Josh Eskew. “They’re a good team. We just capitalized on the opportunities we had. The early goal helped us.”
Dorman’s Tristan Brank knocked the ball in from close range in the 10th minute after Blythewood was unable to get the ball cleared after a corner kick.
About midway through the half, Blythewood (22-6) turned the offensive pressure up a notch and tested Cavaliers goalkeeper Gabe Ward several times.
“I thought in the first half we were hanging on for dear life there a little bit,” Eskew said. “They were moving the ball around well and adjusting the sides of the field, swinging the ball. We had some trouble with that and got a little bit uncomfortable with some of the free kicks and corners.
“But, the boys in the back are always steady and always composed. They just handle business. We know we can count on them. “Then, we made the adjustments at halftime and, after that, I felt like we were pretty solid and in control of the game,” Eskew said.
Eliseo Poxton Delgado set up the second score with a run up the left side, then swung a centering pass to Zikeem Smith. Smith poked the ball past Blythewood goalkeeper Liam Murphy in the 50th minute.
“The ball happened to break for me, and I happened to be in the right place at the right time,” Smith said.
“It was nice to get a second goal,” Eskew said. “We’re used to close games; we’ve been in battles all year long and it’s a credit to these guys for sticking it out. They had a resolve. They never quit and play all the way through.”
Ward had several acrobatic saves, one of the best when he dove over another player and grabbed the ball to prevent a close-up follow-up chance for the Bengals.
“That’s what we expect from him,” Eskew said. “We know that he’s going to make the saves he needs to. He’s done that all year.”
“This was a hard-fought battle,” Ward said. “We kept pushing through. Our girls got to Upper State Friday night, and we wanted to make it a Dorman thing. We were a little sloppy in the first half, but we cleaned it up, played really well and got the win.”“It was a game of opportunities,” said Blythewood coach Peter Wittig. “They had one in the first half and put it away.
“We passed the ball around most of the time, but we couldn’t put our opportunities in,” Wittig said. “The second goal was a nice goal. That made a big difference, because we came out the way we did in the first half. When they countered and got that second goal, down 2-0 we had to change what we were doing.”