O'Connor lifts Suwannee soccer to district title

Published: Friday, January 29, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 30, 2010 at 12:05 a.m.

LIVE OAK — The Suwannee boys soccer team has dominated its District 5-3A competition all season and Friday night’s championship match was no different.

Austin O’Connor scored the first of his three goals in the opening minute and the Bulldogs never looked back en route to posting a 5-0 win over Newberry at Paul Langford Stadium.

Stuart Brown had three assists and Tripp Prevatt had a goal and an assist for Suwannee, which captured its first district championship since 2004.

The Bulldogs (17-3-1) finished a perfect 8-0, including the tournament, against district opponents, while not allowing a goal in district play.

“This is all I wanted, I have been one and done in districts every single year,” said O’Connor, who also added an assist on the night. “This is really good for Suwannee. It is good for our school, our community and everyone behind us. I’m really excited and I hope we can keep going.”

Stuart Brown and O’Connor wasted little time to get things going for Suwannee. The junior raced down the right side and sent a pass to O’Connor, one of nine seniors on the club, who was open and knocked the ball in the back of the net for the 1-0 edge in the first minute of action.

The duo hooked up again 16 minutes later in a similar fashion. This time Brown took the ball a little deeper into the right corner and found O’Connor in front of the goal again with a pass from the endline for the 2-0 lead.

Prevatt capped the first-half scoring as he delivered a quick pass off of a free kick to a streaking O’Connor. The midfielder/forward ripped a shot from about 18 yards out on the right side.

The ball got past Newberry goalkeeper David Berlin, who came out to challenge on the play.

“We practiced all week, the guys were focused, we wanted to come out quick and try and put pressure,” said first-year Suwannee coach Archie Cook. “We were lucky to get a goal in the first minute.”

In the 48th minute, Stuart Brown sent a corner kick that found his twin-brother Jackson Brown, who headed the ball into the back of the net for the 4-0 cushion. Prevatt, who sported a green faux hawk like some of his teammates, finished things off with a header of his own in the 62nd minute.

The Bulldogs posted their 10th shutout of the season and outshot the Panthers (5-10-2) 23-4.

Berlin made a few impressive saves and finished with 14 on the night. Bulldogs’ goalie Jake Hayes stopped all four shots he faced.

Suwannee will host Crystal River in Thursday’s Region 2-3A quarterfinal, while Newberry will make its second straight regional-playoff appearance and travel to Ocala Trinity Catholic.

As for what lies ahead, Suwannee players and coaches are taking the one game at a time approach. But Newberry coach Rod Warner sees a lengthy playoff run for the Bulldogs.

“I think that they can get to the final four and in the final four anything can happen,” Warner said. “I think they are a final four team.”

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