Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips
GAC's Denzel Clarke (10) leaps over East Hall goalie Emmanuel Andrade as he attempts a shot on goal on Friday.
NORCROSS — Just seconds after the post-game handshakes, the Greater Atlanta Christian boys soccer players were already headed for the exits, bags in tow.
“There was no post-game talk, just get out of here,” Spartan boys coach Thom Jacquet joked.
With prom on tap Friday night and the clock nearing 7 p.m., there was no time to waste. And the Spartans also left in a good mood, thanks to a 7-1 win in the first round of the Class AA playoffs. The state’s top-ranked team advances to play Coosa on Wednesday.
The hosts were a bit sluggish for most of the first half before scoring three goals in the final 15 minutes before intermission, fueling the victory. Denzel Clarke scored two of his three goals during that span, two off Stewart Abrahart assists. Clarke now has 35 goals on the season.
“It took us awhile to get going,” Jacquet said. “(East Hall) played well for the first 20 minutes, they were passing the ball and moving well. It took us awhile to adjust to that. ... But once we got the first goal, it got us going.”
That goal came in the 26th minute, when Abrahart set up Max Gomas for a shot just outside the box. Less than four minutes later, Matt Carothers hurried a free kick ahead to Clarke, who scored a breakaway goal. Abrahart then connected with Clarke for GAC’s third goal in a span of just more than five minutes.
Kyle Rees, Carothers (a header off a long throw by Jimmy Stahlke), Clarke and Abrahart had goals in the first 20 minutes of the second half for a 7-0 edge, allowing Jacquet to make mass substitutions. Jason Mendoza of East Hall (8-6-2) scored late on the GAC reserves to avoid the shutout.
Despite the slow start, GAC (14-2) got the result it wanted and finished in time for prom.
“It was good, we needed a little bit of test,” Jacquet said. “This was only our third game in a 30-day period, so there was a little bit of rust early. We were a little sluggish. But it wasn’t too bad.”
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