MURRAY — Missed opportunities pretty much derailed Mount Vernon's high-scoring offense for an entire half. The Patriots struggled to finish off plays and get themselves in position to create goals.
Yoshia Kawamura made sure Mount Vernon put those troubles behind them in the second half.
Kawamura scored a pair of goals and assisted on another to lift the Patriots to a 3-1 victory over Millard in first round action of the 2A boys soccer tournament on Wednesday afternoon at Murray City Park. Mount Vernon (8-3) claimed a victory in the 2A tournament for the first time in school history.
Drawing the Eagles (8-8) no doubt helped the Patriots' chances to advance. While Mount Vernon featured one of the top five offenses in 2A, Millard owned one of the five worst scoring defenses. The Eagles allowed 3.6 goals per game and the Patriots scored 3.9.
It seemed like a perfect matchup on paper for Mount Vernon. But it only became that way once the Patriots' offense woke up after halftime.
"In the second half, we started to play harder," senior forward Kim Koivu said. "We took advantage of our opportunities to make some goals."
It was Millard who actually found the net first. The Eagles went up 1-0 in the 43rd minute when Josh Aleman connected on a free kick. Aleman lobbed the kick over the defensive wall from the left flank and tried to bend the ball inside the far post. It clanked off the post and bounced in for the goal.
Kawamura came up with the equalizer in the 56th minute. Koivu laid it off to him deep in the area. After a stutter step, Kawamura drilled a shot over the shoulder of Millard goalkeeper Trey Ashton and buried it in the corner of the net.
The sophomore found Chang Hee Lee for the go-ahead goal a few minutes later. After Kawamura flicked the ball to him, Hee Lee drilled a laser right down the center of the goalmouth to make it 2-1.
Mount Vernon extended its lead in the 77th minute on Kawamura's second score of the afternoon. Shortly after crossing midfield, Koivu fed him on the run. Kawamura shook a defender and fired it home to make it 3-1.
"Yoshi is hit or miss with us depending on the time of day and how the seasons work," assistant coach Marty Lambson said. "Today he was money. Today he was right on."
The Patriots are winners of five straight and will look to continue that streak when they meet South Summit in the 2A quarterfinals on Saturday. The Wildcats upset Mount Vernon in the first round a year ago to spark a surprise run to the 2A semifinals.
Mount Vernon is eager for a rematch. But the Patriots also know they can't afford to play soft against South Summit like they did in the first half against Millard.
"That's when we play good is when we're playing hard," Lambson said. "We don't have much strategy as far as placing people on goals. These guys just create a lot for themselves."