SMYRNA — Campbell rallied from a 1-0 first-half deficit to beat Camden County 3-1 on Wednesday in the first round of the Class AAAAAAA state playoffs at McDaniel Stadium.
Despite a slow start that included a barrage of failed shot attempts, Region 2AAAAAAA champion Campbell (9-8) dominated time of possession and shots on goal.
Angel Gonzalez finished with two goals and one assist, while Johnny Gonzalez had two assists and one goal.
The victory sent Campbell into the second round for the second time in three seasons, where it will host Roswell next Wednesday.
The Spartans came in having lost five of their last six games.
“I think we can play better,” Campbell coach Troy Connolly said. “I think we still haven’t played our best game yet. (Camden County) did a good job of frustrating us, especially in that first half, but the guys were able to dig and keep grinding and finish the game out.”
Scoring opportunities were there for Campbell throughout the first half, but Camden County’s counterattack off a save by goalkeeper Cade Boggess led to a goal for Jalen Davis in the 24th minute.
Riley Bullard fed the ball into the box, and Davis recovered it during a scrum in front of the net and turned and fired to beat Campbell goalkeeper Leathan Posey for a 1-0 lead.
The Spartans got on the board in the 35th minute when Johnny Gonzalez beat Boggess to the ball inside the box to tie the game at 1-all.
Campbell outshot Camden County (1-7-1) 13-3 in the first half and was called for nine offside penalties.
“We’re going to go to goal,” Connolly said. “One of our strengths is our willingness to attack. The offside doesn’t surprise me.”
The Spartans controlled the second half from the outset, with Angel Gonzalez dribbling past Boggess and finding the back of the net for a 2-1 lead in the 44th minute.
“When talent doesn’t work out, hard work pulls through,” Angel Gonzalez said, “so we just put in the work until halftime. Then, our coach talked to us, and we just opened our eyes and played better.”
The margin stood until Angel Gonzalez scored again in the 68th minute for the 3-1 lead.
“We wanted them to play quicker,” Connolly said. “We were making things easy on them by playing too slow through the midfield and not getting the ball out wide early enough. Once we started playing quicker and going to goal sooner and getting the ball from the outside into the middle, that’s when the goals came.”
Campbell, which outshot Camden County 29-6 for the game, was unable to take advantage of its many scoring opportunities.
“It’s frustrating because everything we worked on with crossing and finishing this week, and some of my clutch guys were missing some really easy goals,” Connolly said. “The game probably could have been a 10-1 game had we finished our chances. Hopefully, we got our bad shots out of the way for this round.”
Boggess collected eight of 13 saves in the second half.
Campbell had seven corner kicks, and Posey finished with three saves.
“We try and hold possession as much as we can, but it doesn’t do us any good if we’re not scoring any goals,” Connolly said. “Possession without a purpose is a waste of time.
“I’m excited for these boys. They put in work all season long and it comes down to these last five games if we can make the season long enough. The furthest I’ve gone is the second round. I’m hoping we can go past that this year. We’ll see.”