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 on Wednesday night.
Hilliard scored in the fifth minute and the 67th minute. His leads all Division I players in goals with 38 on the season, according to team statistics.
No. 7 Denham Springs (29-4-1) advances to the quarterfinals for the first time. DSHS made the playoffs for the first time last season and lost in the first round. DSHS will play second-seeded Acadiana in a quarterfinal next week.
No. 10 Bonnabel finishes 15-3-1, and it was the final game for 10 seniors.
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. I’ve got skilled players who can handle the ball and pass the ball.
“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 past 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 fifth minute.
His decisive goal came on a weaving run where he beat two defenders and fooled Bonnabel goalkeeper Alan Garcia. Hilliard ran up the middle and touched it in from 3 yards out in the 67th minute.
Bonnabel’s Bryan Gonzales fired a hard shot in the 37th minute that Denham goalkeeper 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.