STORY BY MITCHELL STEPHENSON | PHOTO BY CARL EDMONDSON, JR.
The Grace Christian Academy Lions have a chance to be first-time state champions.
They defeated Signal Mountain 2-1 Wednesday night in the semis round to advance to the Class A Soccer Championship game.
GCA started very fast. They scored their first goal at the 38:33 mark of the first half when Sam Barrionuevo got one in. There were several attempts by both teams that were near misses throughout.
Then Grace Christian Academy extended their lead to 2-0 at the 13:54 mark of the first half as Alex Johnson scored off the assist from Levi Jones. It seemed the Lions were in control and well on their way to a victory.
However, Signal Mountain came out in the second half fired up and ready to play. They scored quickly as Aaron Easterly scored off a corner kick with 38:53 remaining in the second half.
The Lions goalkeeper Kytn Wolf was a huge reason the Lions won the game. He had eight total saves.
“I did pretty good,” Wolf said of his game. “I came after the balls that needed to be stopped. Anything that looked dangerous, I just came out for.”
Lions defender Kaden Nordhoff roamed the back part of the pitch and helped Wolf maintain GCA’s defensive prowess.
After the game GCA coach David DeFatta shared his thoughts on the victory.
“We came out and got an early goal,” he said. “That was huge for our momentum. We got here last year and lost 1-0 to these guys. They’re and excellent team, and well coached. They have great players. ”
He said he felt that keeping momentum was the deciding factor in the outcome.
“The early goal was key. The second goal was also key. That 2-0 lead at halftime was really the key to the whole thing. And I told the guys at halftime we have 40 minutes of soccer. We don’t have to score; we just have to keep them from scoring.
“Unfortunately they got an early goal, but we held it. I’m proud of these guys, and we’re looking forward to a fun game on Friday.”
Grace Christian Academy will play Gatlinburg-Pittman in the Class A championship game on Friday at 1:3o p.m. at MTSU’s Johnny “Red” Floyd Stadium.