DENHAM SPRINGS — Junior forward Cam Hilliard scored a goal in each half to help lead Denham Springs to a 2-1 Division I boys soccer regional playoff victory over Bonnabel here Wednesday night.
Hilliard scored in the 5th minute and the 67th minute. He leads all Division I players in goals scored with 38 on the season.
No. 7 Denham Springs (29-4-1) advances to the quarterfinals for the first time in school history. DSHS made the playoffs for the first time last season and lost in the first round. DSHS will travel to No. 2 Acadiana for the quarterfinals. Acadiana defeated Northshore 2-1 in overtime. No. 10 Bonnabel finishes 15-3-1.
Bonnabel senior Sharif Sharif tied the game at 1-1 in the 19th minute with a strong shot from 21 yards out. Bonnabel outshot Denham 13-6 and at times controlled the midfield. Sharif, who finishes with 26 goals, had five shots on goal. Juan Martinez also fired four shots for the Bruins.
“I thought we had a good chance to win,” Bonnabel coach Colt Colletti said. “We had more possession time and shots on goal.
“But we don’t have anyone as fast as Cam Hilliard. That guy is quick. We have good defenders and they did contain him except those two times.”
Hilliard had failed to score in his last seven games. The crafty forward set the tone early with his run down the left side that he turned back to the middle for a 15-yard shot that put the Yellow Jackets up 1-0 in the 5th minute.
His decisive goal came on a weaving run where he beat two defenders and fooled Bonnabel keeper Alan Garcia. Hilliard ran up the middle and touched it in from 3 yards out in the 67th minute.
“This was a great win,” Hilliard said. “Our team has really bonded and is like a family. Our coach said we had to play physical and not back down. On my second goal I kept cutting and cutting and toe touched it in.”
“Cam Hilliard is a heck of a player and competitor,” DSHS coach Chris Thorne said. “The second goal was special. He beat a couple of defenders and made the keeper bite and finished the play.”
Denham’s Zachary Kimball fired three shots. Teammate Cade Murry had a shot in the 71st minute that sailed high.
Bonnabel’s Bryan Gonzales fired a hard shot in the 37th minute that Denham keeper Tyler Medina stopped with a leaping grab. Medina had seven saves.
“Sharif Sharif was a tough matchup for us,” Denham Springs coach Chris Thorne said. “We set up our defense to try and slow him down. I thought Bonnabel controlled most of the possessions and really challenged us physically.”
Bonnabel had three yellow cards in the match to two for DSHS. Sharif picked up a yellow card after scoring and taunting the home sideline.