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North Oldham will continue its postseason run against Region 4 champion Bowling Green at 5 p.m. Saturday at Henry Clay High School in Lexington. The Era talked with Zach Greenwell, prep sports reporter at the Bowling Green Daily News, to learn more about the Purples in advance of Saturday’s game.
Q: What has Bowling Green done well this season to get to the state quarterfinals for the second straight year?
ZG:“...They graduated 11 players who were all starters at some point last year. So they’re playing a lot of young guys.
“They’re really, really fast. Speed has pretty much always been Bowling Green’s thing. Until they get to state, they’ve always been able to just run past people. They have really good forwards who are aggressive and can get in the box and make shots. That’s always been their strength.
“For a soccer team, they’re kind of a run-and-gun team. They make really good runs that are pretty crisp with everything they do. Their goalie doesn’t get tested a lot because their defense and mid are so strong.”
Q: Exodus Bargblor scored the game-winning goal to send Bowling Green past Greenwood in the last minute of the region final. Is he the team’s star?
ZG:“It’s more of a rotating cast. He’s probably the most talented kid in terms of raw soccer talent, but I don’t think he’s by any means the star... A lot of young guys have scored goals and it was that way last year.
“Exodus didn’t even start last year, and I would’ve still said he was the best raw talent on the team. He’s definitely the most dangerous player, probably. He’s the guy that can take a touch and beat you.”
Q: What are Bowling Green’s realistic expectations for this tournament?
ZG:“I think they really didn’t know what they would have this year or if they would even get to state because they were so young.
They cruised through the first part of the year. They got up to No. 1-ranked, and one or two days after they got to No. 1 they got beat 7-0 at Trinity, kind of got brought back down to earth.
“...They rely a lot on speed, but they’re not going to be able to beat people that way at state.
“...I think they’re happy to be there. I think they feel like they have the talent to play with people, but it’s a matter of whether or not they keep that poise with a whole new group.”
Q: Who are some other scoring threats for the Purples?
ZG:Felix Villatoro is a senior forward... He’s another small, speedy guy like Exodus. Those two guys on the outside are really, really fast.
Johnny Parra is really good in the middle. Donald and Gilio Aviles, they’re two sophomores playing for the first time this year... They looked really strong throughout the year.”