GRAFTON —The Grafton High School (GHS) Bearcats Soccer team (11-4-4) welcomed the Lincoln Cougars to McKinney Field on Thursday, October 21 for a titanic, high-stakes playoff match-up in the Class AA/A Region II, Section 1 semifinal.
Both teams got off to a slow start, before a four-minute, four-goal explosion by the Bearcats flipped the game on its head. The Lincoln defensive backline held strong for the opening thirteen minutes of the game, before Spencer Copeland found Jude Minard streaming down the right wing, connecting for a goal in the waning seconds of the fourteenth minute to get the scoring started and give the Bearcats the early 1 to 0 lead.
A minute later, Layne England showed great awareness, taking advantage of a lazy clearance pass by Lincoln, collecting the loose ball doubling the Bearcats’ lead to 2 to 0 with a goal in the fifteenth minute.
The Bearcats continued to pour it on offensively when just minutes later, when Minard capitalized on a lazy back pass, stealing possession and making the Cougars pay with a goal in the eighteenth minute.
Seconds later, still in the eighteenth minute England stole the proceeding entry pass and found the back of the net for the second time on the game.
In less than four-minutes, the Bearcats offensive attack wracked four-goals in quick succession, stunning and overwhelming the opposing Cougars.
The Bearcats weren’t quite finished scoring in the first half quite yet, striking again in the twenty-third minute after Adrian Joyce buried a corner kick to extend Grafton’s already formidable lead to 5 to 0.
The Bearcats five-goal advantage held until the halftime intermission.
With the game in control and the dogs largely called off, the Cougars offensive attack didn’t fare much better in the second half, failing to find any luck penetrating the Bearcats imposing backline.
England capped off his huge day with a coveted hat-trick, sinking his third goal of the day in the forty-seventh minute to push the Bearcats lead to 6 to 0.
Spencer Copeland scored the game’s final in the fifty-first minute to seal the Bearcats dominate 7 to 0 shutout win over the Lincoln Cougars.
With the win, Grafton improves to 12-4-4 this season and move that much closer to winning a sectional title. The only thing standing in their way? A rematch on the road in the sectional final with Robert C. Byrd.
The Eagles won the two team’s only prior meeting this season in a close 1 to 0 game, since that game the Bearcats have logged three shutout wins. It will be an interesting match-up as these two rivals square off for the sectional crown on Saturday, October 22 at noon.