BRANDON — Out-sized and missed opportunities.
That was theme for George County as the Rebels fell to Brandon, 4-1, in the first round of the MHSAA Boys Class 6A soccer playoffs on Monday night.
Brandon (17-2-1) will face the winner of the Biloxi-Terry game on Saturday in the second round.
The Rebels finish the season 6-11-4.
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“Thought we got behind too early and then we cut the lead, but in the second half we let their size advantage get to us on some set pieces,” said third-year George County coach Robert Dean. “I feel like we kept giving them opportunities, but then we’d get some chances but could never find space for an open shot.”
The Rebels fell behind 2-0 to the Bulldogs within the first 15 minutes of the first half. Both goals came off throw in sets.
The first one came six minutes into the first half as Brandon’s Matt Stowers would score on a header and then in the 14th minute J.P. Burke scored on a header.
But then George County made things interesting.
C.J. Hodges scored that lone George County goal on a quick transition set that would cut the Brandon lead to 2-1 at halftime.
“I feel like we had the momentum going into halftime following the goal,” Dean said. “We caught them on a quick counter attack and we worked hard for that goal.”
The Bulldogs opened the second half with two goals within the first 12 minutes.
Matt Stowers would add his second goal on a rebound and then John Avery Slay scored on a penalty kick.
“My whole deal with these guys is to be patient and share the ball and give us good positions to score goals,” said Brandon coach Randy West. “We set ourselves on cruise control early and they scored, but we refocused and came out in the second half and got two quick goals and held on.”
This the first time since 2004-2005 that George County made the soccer playoffs in back to back seasons. So the goal now for the Rebels now is to make the postseason for a third straight season.
“We are proud of this bunch and making the postseason in the first year back in 6A is an accomplishment,” Dean said. “Hopefully we can build off this and start making runs into playoffs next year.”
Brandon 5, George County 0: The Lady Bulldogs set the tone early and often as they ran past the Lady Rebels in the first round of the MHSAA Girls Class 6A playoffs.
Brandon will face the Gulfport-Terry winner in the second round on Saturday.
Savannah Lowe, Anna Kate Carter, Alexis Lowe, Jordan Dillon and Jocelyn Jones all had goals for Brandon (20-0).
George County only managed one shot on goal the entire game.