STORY BY CHIP CIRILLO | PHOTOS BY CARL EDMONDSON, JR.
Sam Khomtchenko knew exactly where he was going with his shot when he approached the penalty mark.
“I knew I was going bottom right the whole time,” Khomtchenko said. “I just didn’t hesitate. I knew that this was going to be a tight game and it was probably going to be our best chance at the game and it was.”
Khomtchenko’s penalty kick goal zipped by Ravenwood goalkeeper Joey Goslak in the 38th minute, giving Brentwood the Region 6-AAA championship with a 1-0 win in the Battle of the Woods on Thursday night.
Khomthenko, a midfielder who has signed with Rhodes, picks his target on penalty kicks based on a gut feeling.
“Right when a PK is called I just make up my mind, whichever I feel most comfortable and I just go there,” Khomtchenko said. “If there’s one team we want to beat, it’s Ravenwood. I was so pumped for this game. That was probably one of our hardest matches all season.”
Brentwood (16-0-1) beat its archrival for the third time this season, giving the Bruins a home sectional against Smyrna (12-5-2) at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Ravenwood (8-6-3) visits defending state champion Station Camp (14-2-4) on Saturday, needing one more win for its first trip to the Class AAA Tournament since 2016.
Ravenwood defender Christian Harvey was called for a foul for pushing Austin Moore to the ground after the Brentwood forward got a step on him near the Raptors’ goal. The Bruins picked Khomtchenko to take the shot.
“The PK killed the game for us,” Raptors coach Adam Harris said. “It completely changed it. It changed how we play and more importantly it changed how they play because now they’re up a goal and it completely changes the tactics that we have to do to stay in the game.”
Ravenwood’s Stone Ferguson almost tied the game twice during the final eight minutes.
First, he hit the crossbar on a curling direct kick in the 72nd minute.
“I should have hit it a little flatter and it just wasn’t good enough,” Ferguson said. “I thought it was going in, to be honest. There are shots that you hit that you’re, like, ‘oh, yea, that’s it, that’s money.’ It was really close, but it wasn’t close enough.”
Shortly after that, Bruins goalkeeper Jake Severino robbed Ferguson with a difficult save on a shot from within the 6-yard-box toward the near post.
“That was definitely a reaction save,” Severino said.
Brentwood recorded its seventh consecutive shutout. No one has scored on the Bruins since mid-April.
“Our athleticism in the back is just unmatched,” said Severino, who has 11 shutouts. “When one guy messes up, we have another one that can track back and make a game-saving tackle. They’ve made my job easy and I’m fortunate to have them back there.”
Bruins coach Mike Purcell said his defenders are playing with lots of passion.
“We’ve really stressed how we play this year as a unit,” Purcell said. “Even though one guy might make a mistake, we’ve been able to pick up and not have errors that cause goals to happen. And that’s improved throughout the year.”
Just getting the ball is difficult for Brentwood’s opponents.
“What they really do well is they possess the ball through the back, so they stretch you and make you super big,” Harris said. “That allows (them) to play over the top, so it’s really how they are on the attacking end that really solidifies their defense.”
Ferguson said Brentwood isn’t an easy team to break down in any way.
“Jake Severino with fantastic saves,” Ferguson said. “That save at the very end where he hand saved it, that was probably the most important save of his entire season.”
Ravenwood faced an undefeated opponent for the third straight game, including two against Ravenwood and one versus Overton.
The Raptors handed Overton its first loss of the season with a 2-1 upset that ended the Bobcats’ season at 17-1 in the semifinals on Tuesday.
“It shows that we can play with anybody in the state,” Harris said. “They have the confidence now that they can play with anybody. To come here in the region championship and lose 1-0 on a PK to one of the best teams in the state shows how good we are as a team.”
Brentwood will stay in friendly confines for its sectional game Saturday, facing Smyrna.