Grizzlies men, women put on offensive show in inaugural soccer games

Georgia Gwinnett College's Alejandro Duque (10), a Collins Hill grad, battles for the ball with Tennessee Temple's Josh Fann (15) during Saturday's game.

Georgia Gwinnett College's Alejandro Duque (10), a Collins Hill grad, battles for the ball with Tennessee Temple's Josh Fann (15) during Saturday's game.


Georgia Gwinnett College's Mary Vernetti (27), a Grayson grad, battles with Tennessee Temple's Liz Adams (7) during Saturday's game.


Georgia Gwinnett College's Tom Butler breaks away from Tennessee Temple's Chris Tindal to score his first goal of the game on Saturday afternoon.


Georgia Gwinnett College's Amairani Almanza scores the first goal in GGC history with this shot on Saturday afternoon.

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LAWRENCEVILLE -- With a total of 22 goals scored Saturday, Georgia Gwinnett College's first day of athletics was definitely one to remember.

Berkmar grad Amairani Almanza scored 12:51 into the women's game for the first goal in school history. She added another goal nearly 20 minutes later, and the Grizzlies' women's soccer team rolled to a 9-1 victory over Tennessee Temple in its first-ever contest.

Andres Molano put his name in the books as the men's first goal-scorer after only 8:38. He also scored a pair of goals in the men's 12-0 downing of the Crusaders.

Almanza began the day with a nifty goal on a run. She received a pass from the Grace Gresham, used footwork to move inside a defender and hit a shot from about 20 yards over goalkeeper Donnae' Bolden and into the net for the historic goal and a 1-0 lead.

"I'm honored to (score) the first goal in GGC history," Almanza said. "I've been working hard to get my spot. Hard work pays off, I guess."

Almanza added a second goal with 14:27 to go in the first half with a wide-open shot off an assist from Brookwood grad Blake DiSpigna.

Central grad Salina Orzikowski came off the bench and netted her first goal with just seconds remaining in the first half. DiSpigna had taken a shot from the left side that Bolden couldn't collect. Orzikowski knocked the rebound home for a 3-0 lead that held until halftime.

"It was nerve-wracking because this was the first game to set the bar," she said. "It was pretty nice, thought, because we won 9-1. ... All the weights are lifted off our shoulders."

In the second half, the Grizzlies put the game away. Natalie Leone scored a goal off an assist from Duluth native Valeria de Santiago with about 34 minutes to go in the game. Grayson grad Mary Vernetti was assisted on a goal a couple of minutes later from a corner kick by Lydia Morrow.

Amanda Dale added two scores in the final 10 minutes, including one off a penalty kick. Orzikowski also added her second goal of the game.

TTU was able to avoid a shutout with a goal from Courtney Born with less than five minutes to go, but it wasn't nearly enough to steal the day from the Grizzlies.

"We didn't have a long preseason," women's coach Domenic Martelli said, "So there was a lot of things that we wanted to get the cobwebs shaken off and get ourselves a little bit more in an 11 v. 11 environment."

Injuries and eligibility issues had kept the team from practicing much with everybody in two weeks of camp. Martelli said letting so many players get on the field was a good step in the first game. It also helped the players get to know each other and their style on the field.

"We really had to play the name game when we first got here on Aug. 12," he said. "They didn't know each other's names, the whole team. So it was pretty fun to see that relationships continue to grown on and off the field from nothing to where it is right now."

After Molano put the men up 1-0 in the second game of the day's doubleheader, senior forward Tom Butler took the game over. Butler scored four goals before intermission and added a fifth in the second half in the men's 12-0 win.

"(Scoring the goals) feels good, but it really doesn't matter that much," Butler said. "It's the generic thing to say, but it really is about the team, especially here right now with a first-year program. To score that many goals is good, but we're not done. We have to improve every day."

Molano put a second goal up for the Grizzlies in the second half with a shot from near the penalty spot.

"Right now I'm really happy, really proud to be a part of this team," Molano said. "I'm really satisfied with everything we have and the opportunity to stay here, work hard. I really enjoy being on this team."

Berkmar grad Martin Lugo scored a goal for GGC late in the first half off an assist from Duluth grad Edwin Romero.

In addition to Butler's fifth goal and Molano's second, the Grizzlies received second-half goals from David Burke, German Rodriguez, Ibrahima Sissoko and even goalkeeper Greg Hartley on a penalty kick.

"We hit the target well," men's coach Steve DeCou said. "We created a number of chances and we finished. That's what we're capable of. But not every game is going to be like this."

The Grizzlies used multiple tactics to put up 12 goals on the day, showing a diverse style that should help them in closer games in the future.

"Some of the goals were great counterattacks," DeCou said. "Won the ball, released a guy and we got in behind. Some of it was great one- and two-touch. Some of it was sheer determination. They just wanted it, they beat their man off the dribble and shot it in."