By David Purdum / For the AJC
In an unlikely Cinderella story, the Berkmar Patriots are the 2013 AAAAAA state soccer champions.
Kofi Twumasi and Awey Houry scored second-half goals, leading the Patriots to a 2-0 upset of perennial power Collins Hill on Saturday at Kennesaw State.
It’s the first state championship for Berkmar soccer and only the third state title in any sport for the program.
After missing the playoffs last season, the Patriots overcame a 0-3-1 start to this season to reach the state championship game for the first time. Defending champion Collins Hill was making its sixth straight appearance in the championship game. The Eagles won titles in 2009, 2010 and 2012. But it was Berkmar that kept its cool Saturday, while the Eagles often appeared frustrated.
Scoring threats were few and far between in a physical and scoreless first half.
Berkmar (15-6-1) opened the second half with a flurry of threats, forcing a pair of lunging punch saves from Collins Hill goalie Jackson Taylor. Finally, Twumasi corralled a bouncing ball in the box and scored to put the Patriots ahead 1-0 two minutes into the second half.
Houry tacked on the clincher at the 15-minute mark and celebrated with a series of back flips.
A Gwinnett County school has now won eight of the last 13 state championships in the state’s largest classification.
Collins Hill (16-6) beat Berkmar 2-0 in February and persevered through an up-and-down season that began with their roster being raided by the U.S. Soccer Development Academy and Jamaican national team.