The prolific Republic (2-0) duo of midfielder Julio Quezada and forward Dylan Brown combined for four of the Tigers' six goals on Thursday to pave the way for an impressive 6-1 victory over the Lebanon Yellowjackets (0-4-1).
Quezada and Brown, who came into this season tabbed as Republic's primary offensive weapons, each attained a pair of scores in the match – giving a somewhat young and inexperienced Lebanon defense more than it could handle.
“Both of those guys bring a lot to this team,” Republic head coach Kevin Hauck said of his two stars. “They're just big on the ball for us. Anytime we can get them around the ball, I feel good where we're at as a team.”
But it wasn't either of those two who scored the game's first goal – in fact, it wasn't anyone on Republic's roster. That honor went to Lebanon freshman Trey Brown, who shocked the Tiger faithful by putting the Yellowjackets up early with 29:31 remaining in the first half.
“Just to get that first goal was a big thing, but we knew [Republic] would come back strong,” Lebanon head coach Matt Jernigan said. “Republic is a good team with great players.”
The momentum that the Yellowjackets were able to grab was short-lived as Republic took its early adversity and turned it into fuel for what was soon to come.
“We came out slow and had a tough game against Monett on Tuesday,“ Brown said. “After they scored that first goal, it kind of put a fire in us.”
That fire ultimately led to Quezada's first goal at the half's 26:20 mark – a rocket that breezed past keeper Kaleb Hooper from a tricky angle in the left corner.
“My plan was to cross it in,” Quezada said about his game-tying strike. “I noticed the angle was off, so I decided just to hit it on goal and if it bounced off the keeper then someone could pick it up, but it ended up going in.”
Then, the floodgates opened.
Republic would score three more times over the next 19 minutes of play, including the first netter from Brown in the 20th minute to extend the lead to 3-1 at the time and help give the Tigers a 4-1 advantage by halftime.
Quezada and Brown continued the contest's scoring with a goal apiece in the second half en route to the 6-1 win.
“Once the first one goes in, you get a little more confidence,” Quezada added. “The doors open and they just keep falling in.”
Both teams are back in action on Tuesday as Republic hosts fellow COC member Nixa, while Lebanon returns home to take on West Plains in Ozark Conference play.