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GAC cruises by Westside in playoff opener

NORCROSS - With one of its captains out of town and not available for Greater Atlanta Christian's opening playoff match on Thursday, one might have thought head coach Thom Jacquet had a reason for concern.

Turns out the had nothing at all to worry about.

The Spartans, playing without senior Sam Arthur, scored three goals in the first half and four more in the second as GAC smothered Westside-Augusta 7-0 in the opening round of the Class AA/A state playoffs.

Nick Ramon and Chris Thomas led the charge with two goals each, helping to fill the offensive void of Arthur's absence.

"We felt like there was enough goals left in the team," Jacquet said. "Thomas has scored seven goals in the last three games. We've had several games where we've missed a lot of players and we feel there is enough quality there to fill the gaps."

Westside earned the right to play GAC by finishing fourth in Area 7-AA/A with a 3-9 overall record and 2-2 in the region. The Patriots (3-10) only had 13 players on their roster while GAC, the Area 8-AA/A champs, dressed out 25, giving the Spartans more than enough depth to wear down Westside.

Things got rolling early for GAC (9-8-1) when Thomas scored his first goal in the game's third minute on an assist from Ramon for the 1-0 lead. Thomas extended that lead to 2-0 10 minutes later when he headed in his second goal on a nice cross from a corner kick by Zack Johnson.

"Hopefully this win will give us momentum to get through the playoffs," Thomas said, who narrowly missed a hat trick when he took a shot in the second half the hit the left post.

GAC dominated in practically every aspect of the game as the Spartans had 22 shots on goal to just one for the Patriots. That one shot on goal came with 27 minutes left to play in the second half and was a result of a direct kick from Andrew Olsen. Olsen's shot was from about 30 yards out and keeper Matt Wolfe was able to come out and make the easy save, his only one of the night.

The second half was nearly a carbon copy of the first half as GAC put four more balls in the net. Peter Labona scored just over one minute into the second half on Taylor Wisted's assist while Johnson logged his second assist of the afternoon when Eric Fletcher headed in his cross in the 45th minute.

Ramon added his second goal of the night in the 60th minute and Evan Turner made it 7-0 after coming in off the bench.

The match was moved up a day early due to both schools having proms today. The earlier match gives Jacquet an advantage as he will be able to scout the Armuchee-Atlanta International match today, the winner of which will be GAC's second-round opponent next Tuesday.

"We felt like we could win by doing what we know we can do and just wanted to keep it in control," Jacquet said. "We wanted to get out of it without anybody injured and we did that and got everybody in the game."