MURFREESBORO -- The Brentwood Bruins kicked off the 2019 season with a 1-0 win over the Oakland Patriots in Murfreesboro.
The lone goal came on a penalty kick from captain Sam Khomtchenko.
"It's the first game,” BHS coach Mike Purcell said. “Our approach is you're going to get better as the year progresses. You can't let the details right now about certain plays bother you. You're going to make mistakes, but making those mistakes will make you a better team.”
From the moment the whistle blew, the Bruins were on the attack, bringing the offense against a young Oakland team that is looking to replace departed seniors Ben Massaro, Noor Lalani and goalie Ramiro Zuniga. Sophomore Noah Blockley got the start in net.
A noticeable duo through the night was freshman midfielder Forrest Wells and Khomtchenko. The two played off each other through the first half, with both coming close to seeing goals from their efforts on set plays, headers, tap ins, and crosses forcing Blockley to be sharp early on as the Patriot defenders seemed to have no answer for the pair.
No matter what Oakland did, the Pats were unable to find any offense. Still developing team chemistry, it was evident Oakland was going through some growing pains.
“First half, I was not pleased with,” OHS coach Jeff Porter said. “I challenged them to come back and take it to them in the second half and play the game they know how to play and carry out the game play we set before them. They did for the most part step up and play a good second half.”
As Oakland overcommitted on coverage, Wells broke free down field and was thrown to the ground in the box from behind, awarding Brentwood a penalty kick. Khomtchenko elected to take the shot and beat Blockley at the 19thminute, giving the Bruins a 1-0 lead.
"It was a tough game,” Khomtchenko said. “The conditions were tough, but it's the first game of the season. We came out strong, but just have some things to clean up and we'll have a great season ahead.
“We had some great play up the middle and Forrest made a good run, (Oakland) threw him to the ground giving Forrest the foul and I knew was going to be able to pick my spot and put it in.”
"Sam is a great player,” Purcell added. “He's the captain, a team player, and a great leader. He produces big time for us and I can't say enough about him. He's a consummate player and will definitely play at the next level."
The Patriots showed some signs of life for the first five minutes of the second half, but the Bruins quickly got the game back to their pace, tying up the Patriots in their own end for a good several times.
With five minutes left, Oakland tried to put it together offensively. Braxton Robinson saw a late scoring chance to try and tie the game, but was turned away by Bruins keeper Jake Severino, who until the final five minutes, had a relatively easy night.
With 30 seconds left, a late, desperate rush from Dominic Carretta caught the Bruins off guard, but Severino rushed to the other side of the net to make the save at the last second of regulation to preserve the shutout win.
“Overall, you've got to be pleased when you get a win,” Purcell said. “Last year we started off 0-2, so this is an improvement over that. Oakland is a scrappy team. They did what they had to do hang around and had an opportunity to make something happen."
Despite replacing several key pieces from last year’s team, Oakland will look to improve as the season progresses. These tough matches early on will help battle test the Patriots for district play.
“Brentwood is pretty solid,” Porter said. “They are the best team from Williamson county we've played so far, but that's exactly why we scheduled them. We want to see the best because we want to get there."