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GAC juggernaut routs Benedictine in Class AA boys quarterfinals

NORCROSS — Benedictine was delayed by a bus breakdown en route to Gwinnett and then freight-trained by top-ranked Greater Atlanta Christian once it got here.

Starting about 90 minutes later than originally planned because of Benedictine's travel problems didn't derail the Spartans. They scored two goals in the first 10 minutes and rolled to an 8-0 victory in the Class AA boys soccer quarterfinals Friday.

GAC (22-0) had eight goals from seven scorers all in the first half and the second half was shortened to 20 minutes.

“We're where we want to be,” head coach Thom Jacquet said. “We've got another one coming Tuesday and we haven't been on the road for a little bit.

“But that's OK. We've actually been there in a semifinal about five years ago.”

In something of a head-shaker, the undefeated and No. 1 ranked Spartans now have to travel to Thomasville, probably leaving Monday night, for a Final Four matchup.

“It's a five-hour trip so we don't want to get off the bus and play,” Jacquet said. “We can travel at night, get a hotel, sleep late and go watch 'Spiderman' that day.

“We have too much to play for to jump off a bus and play.”

If GAC is able to score at will like it did against Benedictine (10-7-2), the ride home won't seem so long either.

Nate Ream ignited the blitzkrieg less than nine minutes into the game. Nash Wagnon picked up the first of three assists with the feed and GAC's net presence paid off at 31:19.

Hudson Kuipers made it 2-0 just 41 seconds later, smashing a rebounding ball past Benedictine's big goalie Youssef Awad, who did an impressive job fighting off attack after attack.

“We know the goals are going to come, but we scored early today which was good,” Jacquet said. “It kind of took the pressure off.”

Benedictine was using one striker and it allowed the Spartans' defense to work in space and spark the offense on run after run.

“A lot of teams have played us that way and we just have to figure out ways to pick them apart and get the goals,” Jacquet said. “We've actually had a lot of practice because there have been four or five teams that have played us just that way.

“We just figured out there are different ways to score — getting long balls in kind of loosens them up and they've got to defend. Then they're always on their heels.”

Ryan Marcano put on a footwork display to push the lead to 3-0 at 19:32. The senior undressed the defender as he cut to the post and ripped a steeply angled shot into the far side of the net.

Wagnon assisted on a George Winfrey tally at 14:07 and then scored himself when a dancing Marcano sent him the centering pass at 12:43.

Davis Bryan kicked down a bouncing ball out front at 7:15 for a 6-0 advantage before helping to cap the scoring by setting up Connor Pendery at 4:01. In between those two shots, Wagnon converted on a penalty kick for his second goal of the night.

Jacquet pulled the majority of his starters with a couple of minutes left in the first half and the second team held the fort through the final horn.