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BROOKVILLE â€” All the Brookville Raiders really needed Monday was striker Wyatt Long's hat trick, but Long added another on top of that and helped lead his team to a dominating 7-2 victory over DuBois Central Catholic in the first round of the District IX Class A boys' soccer playoffs.
"Wyatt has just been more than what we could've asked for the whole way through the second half (of the season)," Brookville head coach Dan Smith said. "We've just continued to build his offensive skill set from a guy that has run wing the last three years."
It didn't take much time for Long to show off those skills, when he scored a picturesque header off a corner kick by Brett Smith during the second minute of the game.
"It was a beautiful ball in, and Wyatt got on the end of that thing and punched it hard," coach Smith said. "That wasn't anything like a lucky goal. That was somebody who was looking to put on in the back of the net, and that set the bar early."
Long gave most of the credit for the highlight-worthy goal to his teammate, saying how Brett Smith was setting him up well throughout the game.
"He's great at giving me the ball and making it easy to put it in the net," Long said. "It was a perfect ball; I just had to run into it and go to the net. He made it easy."
The Raiders' gave up their one-goal lead with 18:09 left to play as DCC's Daniel Leroy scored a direct kick from the left-side of the net. Brookville gave up this goal during a several-minute lull, which coach Smith called the Raiders' weakest part of the game.
"I'm not sure what got into us," he said. "We kind of got stuck in our own end, and I think we were just far too eager to clear a ball where we could've just maintained it better than we did."
The lull didn't last long, though, and the last 12 minutes of the first half were all Brookville.
Brett Smith hit another pass to Long, who found the back of the net from the middle of the box.
With just under four minutes left in the half, Long completed his hat trick, scoring an unassisted goal after breaking free and shooting from 15 yards out.
The Raiders continued to keep up the momentum, and Seth Connor added a fourth goal from a 20-yard direct kick which sailed just over the keeper.
"We really liked that flurry at the end of the half," coach Smith said. "I think it really took the air out of (DCC), too."
The offensive prowess continued for the Raiders almost immediately in the second half when Connor scored a header in traffic, and Brett Smith earned his third assist.
The game continued with Brookville dominating in both possession and shots on goal. Long added his fourth and final goal of the game halfway through the second when Connor hit a pass to Smith, who knocked it over to Long in front of the net.
But DCC did not lose hope and continued to try to put pressure on the Raiders' defense which let up only once when DCC's Ayden Hanes scored, and Leroy notched an assist.
Brookville added an insurance goal after Josh Ross poked in a goal off a corner kick from Smith, and with just over two minutes left in the game, the Raiders had secured their 7-2 victory.
"This is everything we've been looking for," coach Smith said. "(It's) everything we've been building toward since the whole second half of the season."
Smith and the Raiders have been working on improvements in their offense for several games now after going through a scoring drought during the first half of the season.
"We've really stepped it up just at the end of the year," Brett Smith said. "We've been kind of at a district pace for the past few games, and I think that really helped us gain some momentum as a team, get some confidence up because we hit a pretty dry spot there. But we had some big wins and started scoring some goals, and I think that really helped us."
Coach Smith said he is especially happy with how well Long has been doing at the striker position, which was a change from the original formations.
Captain Brett Smith credited a lot of the team's success to the improvements of Nate Shirts and Aaron Ray, who have stepped into the wing position after Long's move.
"If they weren't at the level they've gotten to, we wouldn't be able to put them at a wing in a district game," Brett Smith said.
The Raiders will now move on to face Elk County Catholic at 7 p.m. Wednesday in St. Marys. Brookville faced ECC twice during the regular season. The first game ended in a 0-0 tie, and the second was won by Brookville 5-2.View more articles in: