Lady Crusaders win first-ever CCC crown
Grace Christian won its first Carolina Christian Conference girls soccer season championship Thursday afternoon. The Lady Crusaders (13-1, 7-0) completed their perfect run with a 6-2 victory - with Madison Bolen's four goals leading the attack - over visiting Trinity Academy.
"This was the first goal we set out when we started the season, so this is a huge accomplishment," said Grace Christian head coach Chris Pratt.
The Lady Crusaders celebrated the title with a team photo, many cheers from the sideline and Pratt winding up with confetti and glitter in his hair. The afternoon was a little bittersweet, though, especially as Pratt looks toward the conference and state postseason.
With the Lady Crusaders holding a 4-1 lead with a little more than 17 minutes remaining in the match, goalkeeper Victoria Druther punched away a sharply-struck Trinity free kick but landed badly, remained down injured, seemingly with a knee injury, and had to be helped to the bench after a few minutes.
The injury to Druther goes along with injuries to defender Katie Cook and forward Julia Husk, though Husk is playing through an injured wrist.
Alexis Hunt moved from wide midfield/defender to goalie and did the job for the Lady Crusaders to close out Thursday's win.
"It happens and you have to deal with it," said Pratt of the injuries. "We'll play through it and it's just part of our story."
The Lady Tigers made the CCC season finale more of an up-and-down contest compared to most of Grace Christian's conference victories. The Lady Crusaders though, capitalized on their chances to the tune of a 4-0 lead early in the second half.
It took 19 minutes, but the Lady Crusaders struck the back of the net with their first shot on goal. Jazmine Urrutia and Torie Boyte kept the ball moving through midfield ending up with Boyte touching a pass to Bolen who drove a low shot off the keeper's hand but with enough pace to score.
Boyte's dribbling and speed drew a penalty kick in the 30th minute and Bolen converted from the spot.
Six minutes later, Boyte's speed was key again. Gathering a pass from Bolen, Boyte went on a long dash before scoring with a hard shot from a slim angle from the left of the Trinity penalty area.
Four minutes after halftime, Boyte outran the backs again, this time with Urrutia's long through ball from midfield hitting Boyte in stride near the top of the box where she put away her second goal.
Trinity Academy scored in the 45th and 73rd minutes. The Lady Crusaders added goals with another Bolen penalty kick in the 64th minute, with a good attack by Husk forcing the foul for the penalty, then Bolen striking from long range, nearly from the right sideline, in the 67th minute.
The Lady Crusaders play their regular-season finale at Wayne Country Day at 5 p.m. today. As the top seed, the Lady Crusaders will host Cresset Christian in the first round of the CCC Tournament at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.