Lovejoy boys move into 4A soccer regional final

CARROLLTON, Texas – On the strength of junior forward Eddie Puskarich's offensive firepower, Lucas Lovejoy breezed past Mount Pleasant, 4-1, on Friday in a 4A boys soccer regional semifinal at Standridge Stadium.

Puskarich was involved in Lovejoy’s (23-1) first three goals, scoring the first and third and setting up the second.

The forward’s first came from 30 yards out on a shot that found the back right corner of the net in the fourth minute of the game. Lovejoy coach Bryan Jennings said an early score is exactly what his team needed in this late-round match.

“It allowed us some breathing room and let us play with a little more composure,” he said. “That first goal got the nerves out of our system and cooled us off a little bit.”

Lovejoy notched its second of the game six minutes later on a header by Zack Duran off a Puskarich crossing pass.

Puskarich’s most impressive goal came with two minutes left in the half as he buckled a defender with a quick cut back to the left and ripped a shot that bent its way under the crossbar on the far left side of the goal. That gave Lovejoy a 3-0 lead it took into the half.

The Leopards hit their last of the day 25 minutes into the second half when Chris Lofton dribbled his way down the right side of the field, cut in at the end line and hit the top of the net from an almost impossible angle just a few yards away from the goal.

Mount Pleasant ruined the shutout bid with an Antonio Razo goal with 13 minutes left in the game.

Lovejoy advances to play Kilgore on Saturday at 11 a.m. in the 4A regional final. Kilgore edged Dallas Bryan Adams in a shootout in Friday's first semifinal. Jennings said he expects both teams to come out hungry.

“I know it’s a team that’s not going to quit," Jennings said of Kilgore. "They’re kind of feeling like we do: It’s there for the taking. If they’ve made it this far, they’re definitely going to be something to worry about. They’re definitely dangerous.”