North Point boys soccer loses in 4A East Region playoffs
Eagles shut out by unbeaten Leonardtown
A nice way to advance in the Class 4A East Region playoffs is by defeating a team with a hat trick and Leonardtown sophomore Nik Kokolios did just that Tuesday evening as the Raiders defeated visiting North Point, 4-0.
An early goal for the fourth-seeded Eagles was called back due to a push in the back of Leonardtown senior goalkeeper Chris Braganca and the momentum shifted in favor of the top-seeded Raiders.
North Point held Leonardtown until Kokolios scored in the 27th minute on an assist by Kyle Downing and the Raiders added three goals in the second half to advance to play second-seeded Broadneck of Anne Arundel County in the section final, which was played Thursday.
Leonardtown head coach Dave Holland said he didn’t think his team came out focused in the first half.
“The first half was a lit- tle shaky,” he said. “We talked to them about a few things at halftime and they came out and executed everything we talked about. I’m hoping we get our intensity back next round. They better get their intensity back because we’ll have a very tough opponent. One game at a time. This team has a lot of potential. If we play like we did in the second half, we should be fine.”
The Raiders are still undefeated, now at 14-0 overall. Holland said he is superstitious and makes sure he doesn’t change anything that’s working so far.
“I’m doing every kind of ritual there is,” he said with a smile. “We haven’t lost, so I haven’t changed anything up all year. I’m one of the most superstitious people you’ll ever know. When things are going good, I don’t change anything up. I don’t move anything from where it is.”
Kokolios said the sec- ond goal was the most beautiful, coming in the 51st minute of the game with an assist from team- mate and foreign ex- change student Riccardo Baghino of Sardinia, Italy.
“Ricky just sent it back to me and I had a lot of space on top of the box and I just saw the far corner of the goal wide open,” Kokolios said, “and I just shot it not really expecting it to go in. It just soared into the far corner. They [North Point] gave us a good game at first. They came out ready since we beat them last time. They came back for revenge, but we got back in the game well.”
Baghino added, “I called the ball and I see Nik free and just pass the ball and he score a perfect goal. It was really amazing. It’s been amazing here. It’s my first year and I didn’t think the soccer was good, but it’s amazing here.”
Kokolios netted his third goal just four minutes later when North Point sophomore goalkeeper Austin Geier came out of the net to deflect another shot. A pile of Eagles tried to protect the net, but Kokolios found an empty spot to tap the ball in.
The Raiders kept the pressure on as Geier tried to align his defense. He finished with 10 saves.
With roughly five min- utes remaining, senior Evan Broadhead was awarded a penalty kick and h drilled the ball past Geier for the fourth goal of the night.
North Point head coach Doug DeCook said it could have been a differ- ent game if it had started in the Eagles favor.
“It was tough. It would have been a totally differ- ent game if that first goal was allowed because we would have been on the board first,” said DeCook, who moved over from being the girls head coach to being the boys head coach this fall. “If that one goes in and you’re up 1-0, I think we could have been up or at 1-1 at the half. It’s kind of a different because we had to get the boys wrapped around, bad call, unlucky, you didn’t get the goal to move on. I think that kind of lingered in their heads early in the second half. We gave up two more and then the fourth was just icing on the cake. I told the boys all things come to an end, but it’s the start of something better [for North Point].”
DeCook, whose team finishes 8-6 overall, is graduating seven seniors.
“For the seniors, it’s a tough one,” DeCook said. “I wish them the very best. They really kept the team together. It’s my first year with the boys but we’re happy with the strides we’ve made. I have a lot of sophomores and freshmen. There’s a young nucleus here and we’re happy with what they’re doing.
“We’re here with the 12-0 team who’s just won SMAC and that’s where we want to be. I told them we’re not too far off. The scoreline might show a little bit different but they played with their hearts and they played the full game. The bounces just didn’t go our way but with a young team, hopefully we’ll be back here.”
Leonardtown’s Nik Kokolios finished with a hat trick in Tuesday night’s 4-0 win in the 4A East section semifinals over visiting North Point. The Raiders captured the 4-0 victory to advance. Kokolios dribbles as North Point’s Mason Nunn and Noah Herridge defend.