An offensive frenzy, including a Malachi Jones hat trick, powered the Grace Christian Academy soccer team (17-1-1) to victory over the Goodpasture Cougars (11-1-2) on Thursday night at GCA, 8-0, in the D-II AA Middle Region semifinal.
“We wanted to play together and more free than we did the last game,” said GCA senior Alex Johnson. “It is big for this school to make it to the region final.”
“It shows how hard we have been working on the field and off,” said GCA junior Malachi Jones, a Lipscomb commit. “We started the season a little rough and as the season has progressed, we have learned to play together.”
“We came out a little rusty Tuesday in the quarterfinals,” said GCA head coach David DeFatta. “We were just hoping to play well tonight.”
In the fifth minute of the first half, Malachi Jones got the Lions on the board with a strike in the box to give GCA the 1-0 lead.
Three minutes later, senior Alex Johnson hit a penalty kick in the bottom right corner to extend the Lions margin to 2-0.
The offensive showcase continued five minutes later with a rocket just outside the box by senior Samuel Barrionuevo to stretch the advantage to 3-0.
Senior Max Weimer joined the scoring spree with a goal in the box two minutes later to increase the Lions lead, 4-0.
Malachi Jones showed off his speed, running past the defense and making a deposit in the back of the net for his second goal of the game, widening the margin with 15 minutes remaining in the first half 5-0.
The offensive clinic continued as Alex Johnson picked up the loose change off a rebound and cashed it in for a goal a minute later to stretch the GCA lead to 6-0.
Six minutes later, Lipscomb commit, GCA junior and Malachi's sibling Levi Jones contributed to the offensive onslaught with a blast off a rebound in the box to lengthen the Lions lead 7-0.
GCA starting goalie Kytn Wolf kept the Cougars off the board in the first half as GCA went into halftime up 7-0.
In the second half, the offensive fireworks continued with 27 minutes remaining in the game as Malachi Jones completed the hat trick to give the Lions an 8-0 victory.
“One of our specialties is our offense,” said Johnson. “We were able to show that tonight and hope to continue it throughout the tournament.”
“We have continued to trust each other and I think that is what has carried us on our run,” said Malachi Jones.
“We have been consistent because we move the ball,” said Coach DeFatta. “Malachi Jones has scored a bunch of goals for us, but we also have a lot of guys who have contributed offensively.”
Kytn Wolf and a host of GCA goalies combined for the shutout against Goodpasture.
“We’ve got a good goalkeeper coach in Coach [Eric] Ries,” said Johnson. “As the season has gone on, they (goalies) have gotten stronger and more confident in the net.”
“I think it shows how much work has been put individually at practice doing drills,” said Malachi Jones. “I know that I can trust my keeper, because they have got our backs. We feel confident when each one of them comes in, and they all four showed that tonight.”
“We have three seniors in Kytn Wolf, Merci J. Alexis, and Michael Koellein, and a young guy in Jesse Koellein that all got to play tonight,” said Coach DeFatta. “They have really gelled with the back four.”
GCA will travel to University School of Nashville on Saturday to play for a chance at the region crown.
“Any team is going to have a hard time stopping us, if we continue to play the way we have been.” said Malachi Jones.
“We are going to have to bring our A-game and be ready to play,” said Coach DeFatta.