An offensive onslaught in the second half by the Grace Christian Academy Lions soccer team (15-1-1) led to a strong home win 5-1 against Ravenwood Raptors (5-4-4) on Friday night.
“We knew coming into this game these guys were going to be great competition,” said GCA junior Malachi Jones, who had a hat trick. “We knew we had to come in and execute.”
“First half, we played great,” said Ravenwood head coach Adam Harris. “Other than the result, I am happy with the way they worked.”
“For us, this game was a great test for the postseason,” said GCA head coach David DeFatta. “They played a lot better than us in the first half. We challenged our guys to come out at halftime and play 40 minutes.”
Ravenwood got on the board in the first five minutes of the game with a goal in the box by Lipscomb commit Nick Dang to give the Raptors the lead 1-0.
“Nick plays club soccer with a lot of their players,” said Coach Harris. “He did a good job in the middle of the field and worked really hard.”
Close to five minutes later in the first half, GCA answered the score with a missile off the leg of a fellow Lipscomb commit, junior Malachi Jones, to tie the game at one.
Both sides had plenty of shots to break the tie, but neither could capitalize, as the score remained tied at one going into halftime.
In the first two minutes of the second half, Ravenwood had a costly own goal to make the score 2-1 Lions.
GCA continued to surge four minutes later with a rainbow kick by senior Sam Barrionuevo to extend the lead, 3-1.
The Lions continued the scoring spree late in the second half with Malachi Jones’s second goal of the game on a shot just outside the box to give GCA a 4-1 advantage.
Malachi Jones capped off the hat trick in the final five minutes of the match with a rebound in the box, sealing the victory for GCA, 5-1.
“I had some great players around me, drawing defenders and creating space for me to work. They did a good job sucking them in the middle and allowing me to go out wide,” said Jones. “The coaches have been telling us to drive the line and cut it back going toward the goal. Every guy bought into this today, and that is what made us so dangerous in the attack.”
“I did not expect to score five goals in this game,” said Coach DeFatta. “We were able to penetrate them on the wings and get some good balls across that were dangerous.”
Senior GCA goalie Kytn Wolf held Ravenwood to one goal in the match.
“He started for us as a sophomore,” said Coach DeFatta. “This year, he has been challenged and pushed. He was able to get us quickly up the field, which led to a few goals.”
Ravenwood will play Independence at home next Friday in the district tournament.
“If we play with the intensity we had tonight, we will give Independence a good game,” said Coach Harris. “They are a good team, and I am happy we have them at home. They tied us 2-2 earlier, and each of us could have won that game.”
GCA will play Father Ryan at home next Tuesday.
“Father Ryan is going to be another great team,” said Coach Defatta. “We put Summit, Ravenwood, and Father Ryan into the regular season to really challenge our guys and get them prepared.”
“We’ve just got to come out and play the way we know how to play,” said Jones. “We need to start out fast and take the opportunities we have early.”