Republic earned a berth in the state quarterfinals the same way it earned its other 21 victories this season: lots of goals by Dylan Brown, solid defense, and a couple of fantastic saves by goalie Dalton Ghan. The result was a 5-2 win over Neosho, setting up a Saturday showdown with Springfield Glendale in Springfield.
The first time Neosho and Republic played, the Tigers won in a rout, 7-1. Brown scored five goals in that game — and he scored five again Tuesday night. His first goal, ten minutes into the game, came after Austin Beck fired two shots at Neosho keeper Hank Selig. On the second rebound, Brown was open on the left side of the box and fired the ball into the back of the net to give Republic the lead.
The scoring didn’t resume until the second half, when Brown scored again seven minutes after the break. He took a pass from Chris Pacheco and headed it into the left side of the net past Selig, making the score 2-0. The goal was also the 100th of Brown’s Republic career, making him the first Tiger to reach that milestone.
Republic took a 3-0 lead in the 60th minute when Drew Flippin was fouled in the goal box. Brown fired home the penalty kick.
But just when it looked like Republic had put the game away, Neosho stormed back. Two goals by Bryan Perez within a four-minute span closed the gap to 3-2 with 15:29 remaining. For about five minutes after that, Neosho continued to press forward, threatening to score the equalizer.
The biggest play of the game may have been a steal on the back half of the field by Pacheco with 7:00 remaining. Pacheco intercepted a pass, quickly went the other way, and played the ball ahead to Brown, who finished with his fourth goal. The play gave Republic a two-goal cushion again, and snuffed out Neosho’s upset hopes.
Brown scored his fifth goal in the final five seconds of the game to account for the final score. He now has 103 for his career and 52 for the season. His 52 goals this year tie him for 10th all time in a single season in the state of Missouri. Brown also has 113 points this season (with two points for each goal, and one point for each assist). That puts him at ninth on Missouri’s single-season list.
Republic is 22-4, and will play at Glendale (22-5) on Saturday. The start time will be announced Wednesday.