Familiarity and depth gave Great Crossing its expected getaway over Scott County in their inaugural boys’ soccer battle Tuesday night.
The expansion program was stronger than the established side, on paper, and that also played out on the pitch in a 6-1 final.
Like the girls’ game that tilted late in the other direction a night earlier, though, the underdogs let everyone know they were in the house.
“The first half was a little rough,” GC coach Nick Maxwell said. “I think nerves, and being what it is, being built up. You’ve got to remember these guys played on this field, so it’s got to be emotional on both levels.”
GC scored the final five goals in succession, four after intermission, to seal the deal.
Brayden Ward, Bradyn Johnson, Trey Dice, Rodolfo Torres and Jacob Coats each found the net for Great Crossing.
Ward also was the last Warhawk to touch a ball that ricocheted off an SC defender and into the net for an own goal.
Keagan Morrin provided two assists for Great Crossing, whose large senior group and coaches all wore Scott County red a year ago.
“It means a lot, because it’s the first victory our school’s ever had, and also against our rival school,” Ward said. “We’ve been working hard for it, and there’s a lot more to come. They came out a lot harder than we expected, so we had to get our heads right and adjust to them.”
Ward took advantage of a defensive lapse to break the ice five minutes into the game.
“Keagan played me over top, and Bradyn tapped it one time over, so it was right there for me,” Ward said.
It was a live-and-learn play for the Cardinals, who started only one player, goalkeeper Logan Jean, with any prior varsity experience.
“We didn’t mark well. Give them credit on the first goal,” SC coach Willie Wilson said. “There was some confusion on what you’re allowed to do on defense in the box. If you’ve played varsity before, you know that, and if you haven’t, you don’t.”
Scott County shook off the abrupt letdown and quickly counter-punched.
Andrew Hopkins scored the equalizer after GC goalkeeper Isaac Sullivan made a diving denial of Jacob Benge’s initial bid.
Great Crossing reclaimed the one-goal lead on Dice’s header off a corner kick by Torres with 18 minutes left in the half.
“That’s the other thing. We know a lot of these guys. We’ve coached a lot of these guys at various levels, so we know what to expect,” Maxwell said. “We put Dice up high knowing what that’s going to look like down low in front of the goal. It was a great ball from Rodolfo, and an easy, little flip.”
It stayed a one-goal margin until pressure from Johnson and Ward produced the unlucky bounce for the Cards with 34:41 left in the game.
The fresher, deeper Warhawks piled it up from there. Morrin made a beautiful run to set up Johnson for a 4-1 advantage, moments after Sullivan shut down a try from Hayden Britsch at the other end.
Several crossbars and posts denied GC down the stretch before Torres finally capitalized with 10 minutes to go.
Coats applied the exclamation point with a penalty kick after Ty Martin was taken down inside the 18-yard line.
“We got caught with the deflection, had an own-goal, a PK,” Wilson said. “They’re realizing, ‘This is what I’ve got to do.’ The thing that caught them in the second half was the speed of the game. They were like, ‘You said it was going to be fast, Man, it was fast.’”
Having many different goal-scorers was a common strength for the Great Crossing roster at its old school.
All of them finding the net on the same night was a less frequent treat, although Maxwell sees that now changing with experience.
“We have an attacking force that goes. They’re working off each other better. They’re finding each other better, and they’re finding the back of the net,” Maxwell said. “We’ve got a really strong midfield (with Dice, Coats and Martin). With the midfield feeding those players, there’s no reason we can’t continue the scoring fest, especially the next couple weeks.”
Great Crossing travels to Sayre at 6 p.m. Thursday.
Scott County, which lost one of its 17 players to a hamstring strain late in the game, gets a week to recover and train before taking on Woodford County.
“They’ve got a great side. They played well, and our guys came right back. It ends up 6-1, but few breaks here and there,” Wilson said. “They deserved to win tonight and are the stronger side right now, but our guys in the huddle and stuff tonight, they understood the things we did well. It was all positive, and we couldn’t ask for more.”
Kal Oakes can be reached via email at email@example.com.