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GAC boys, girls take region soccer wins over Wesleyan

NORCROSS --Friday night's matchup with Wesleyan summed up how the Greater Atlanta Christian boys soccer season has gone --plenty of scoring opportunities but not a lot to show for it.

Fortunately for the Spartans, they finish off enough chances to keep winning.

Class AA's No. 1-ranked team defeated feisty, sixth-ranked Wesleyan 3-0 in a Region 6-AA match that was played much closer than the score indicated. GAC (9-0-2, 2-0) led just 1-0 until Max Gomas converted a penalty kick in the 72nd minute and then the hosts scored an insurance goal slightly more than three minutes later.

"I thought we played really well the first half," GAC boys coach Thom Jacquet said. "We had lots of chances, which is kind of what we do all year. We create lots of chances and don't finish them. But they were good chances, it's not like we were playing poorly. I thought we could have put the game away earlier than we did. But I thought (Wesleyan) actually played really well in the second half. They played much better and we got out of our rhythm."

Gomas scored his first goal midway through the first half, cleaning up a point blank off Ryan Yates' free kick, which was headed to him by Andy Irwin.

Twice more in the first half Gomas had great opportunities, but Wesleyan goalkeeper Carter Flachbarth made an excellent dive save on one shot and the other went just wide. Flachbarth made another nice stop on a high shot by Yates later in the first half.

Cort Coxhead gave Wesleyan (2-5-1, 0-1) a couple of good chances early in the second half, but his free kick attempt went just high and then a tremendous save by GAC goalkeeper Jake Doiron kept a strong shot midway through the half from finding the net.

Flachbarth made another good save in the 68th minute on a Gomas header that kept it a one-goal match.

"(Doiron) made some nice saves," Jacquet said. "Both keepers made some nice saves."

GAC finally went up 2-0 on Gomas' PK, which was set up when Yates was taken down in the box. Wesleyan tried to answer back two minutes later with John Adent's shot, but Doiron made another nice save.

The Spartans' last goal was the nicest as Zion Gray crossed from the right side to the far post, where Davis Bryan hammered home a volley for the 3-0 lead against a Wesleyan team that had allowed just two goals in its last four matches.

"The final score showed it was a three-goal differential," Wesleyan boys coach Billy Coxhead said. "I felt like in reality it was a one-goal differential. Once you take out the penalty kick, they had a good third goal and they scored on a direct kick on the first goal. I felt overall it was a one-goal difference and not a three-goal difference. We really hung well with them. I have no disappointment in our effort. GAC's a good team and they're difficult to beat at home."

GAC also has proven difficult to score on.

The defense, anchored by Irwin, has given up eight goals in 11 matches.

"I think defensively we're really solid," Jacquet said. "We don't give up many good chances. We haven't given up many goals all year. If you don't give up many goals, you'll always be around."

GAC girls 5, Wesleyan 0

Rachel Garcia scored five goals, including four early in the first half, as the No. 1-ranked GAC girls coasted to a 5-0 win over Wesleyan, ranked seventh in AA.

Garcia's first four goals came in the game's first 18 minutes, then she added her fifth early in the second half.

Taylor Wagnon assisted two of those goals, while Katie Irwin, Kaitlin Mayer and Halle Huff also added assists. Elizabeth White and Melissa Gray shared time at goalkeeper in the shutout, but they weren't tested as the Spartans (10-1, 2-0) won their eighth straight. Wesleyan (3-5, 0-1) had won three of four since an 0-3 start.

"I think we controlled everything," GAC girls coach Troy Bendickson said. "We controlled possession. We were patient. We moved it around the back and we didn't force it."

The game was costly for GAC as Wagnon, an Auburn signee, injured her leg late in the match and was limping considerably afterward.