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Junior's hat trick helps Lansdowne advance in boys soccer playoffs

Lansdowne's Benny Brankoff couldn't have picked a better time to find his target as the junior scored his first hat trick to lead the Vikings to a 7-2 victory in the Class 2A North sectional boys soccer semifinals over Western Tech (6-4) Tuesday.

Brankoff scored the first of his three goals with his back to the goal from around 10 yards out less than five minutes into the game

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"I just kicked it back over my head and it just had to go in," Brankoff said.

With 28:30 left in the first half, Western Tech's Jacob Wainglass scored the equalizer when he converted a long ball from Ibinabo Braide.

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The goal seemed to light a fire in the Vikings, who went on to score six of the final seven goals, despite outstanding goalkeeping from Wolverine junior Alberto Salazar.

"Their goalie was really nice. I'm not going to lie. Their goalie was really nice," Brankoff said.

"He played great," added Lansdowne coach George Dunn.

But, Dunn's Vikings (10-3) played an excellent all-around game.

Lal Ruata assisted Kiyusila Makano for a 2-1 lead with 23:38 left in the first half and Brankoff converted Jamie Quansah's feed two minutes later.

Salazar's outstanding snatch right in the break basket on a rocket from Jermaine Dasoto prevented another goal, then he thwarted another pair of golden scoring opportunities by cutting off the angle on breakaways by Ling Har and Makano.

"That game they could have easily had like 15 goals," Wolverine coach Brad Hoskin said. "He is legit."

Salazar, who played midfield and striker, was also the team's leading scorer during a regular season when they went 6-3.

"He's the guy on the team you go to," Hoskin said. "He's awesome."

On the other side, the more physical Vikings dominated time of possession.

"They work the ball around much better than we do and they actually are much more physical than us," Hoskin said.

Lal scored a breakaway goal before halftime to give the Vikings a 4-1 lead.

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Brankoff's third goal put them up 5-1 and his coached breathed a sign of relief.

"Benny played great," Dunn said. "He's finally finding the back of the net. He was playing midfield and we rotated him back to striker because he had some accuracy issues and I was trying to get him to refocus. Today, he found his range and was able to bury it."

Fine hustle by Shiok Mehta set up Wainglass's second goal of the game for Western Tech, but Lansdowne answered with goals by Kyndell Overton, off a Josue Argueta assist, and Dasoto just 20 seconds apart to complete the scoring.

"They really sucked it up coming back after that tying goal," Dunn said. "It made everybody nervous, but they started hustling and they were getting to the open balls, to the loose balls and getting to the open field and our passing got a lot better after that."

Viking goalie Brian Rios and backs Collin Murphy, Quansah, Argueta and Overton also did a solid job of limiting the Wolverines chances.

The win advanced the Vikings to the sectional finals on Oct. 31 at 3 p.m. at Patterson High.

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