First half goals led Gryphons to upset

Apr. 29, 2014 @ 07:15 AM

Scoring has been a struggle this season for the Thomas Jefferson girls soccer team.

But, Monday night was different as the Gryphons found the net three time sin the first half en route to a 3-0 upset of Highland Tech in Avondale.

"It feels great," said Gryphon coach Brian Espinoza of his team's highest goal output of the season. "We have been practicing so much better lately and I think it showed tonight."

The offensive production was thanks to a new set put in place by the Gryphons.

"We decided to shift our focus to offense," Espinoza said. "We moved two strikers up front, put two central midfielders behind them with three defenders in the back.  That allows the players more freedom to move and results in more shots. Even in our last game (a 4-0 loss to Community School of Davidson) we got more shots and played well."

The focus showed early as the Gryphons (2-7-1) controlled play behind Rachel Tevis. The senior got shots on goal in the third and fifth minutes of the game but they were blocked away by Ram defenders.

The strong play continued as Thomas Jefferson kept possession helped by Tevis and Malarie Harris controlling the midfield.

Highland Tech managed a breakaway in the 20th minute by Kaci McDaniel. After working around TJCA goalkeeper Lilly Nelson, Gracie Hollifield saved a goal with a slide tackle, knocking the ball away.

Shortly after the defensive stand, Tevis played the ball forward to Mikayla Burleson just outside the box. Burleson chipped the ball over the charging goalkeeper for the first point of the night in the 25th minute.

Eight minutes later, the Gryphons earned a corner kick. Tevis popped the ball into the air where it found Hollifield’s head and the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.

Another quick burst after the ensuing kickoff garnered Burleson her second goal of the game — this time from a Tevis deliver off a corner kick.

The second half was played mostly in the midfield with the Gryphons controlling the majority of the possession while keeping an extra defender back to help preserve the 3-0 win.

The victory sets up an important three game stretch to close out the season for TJCA. If the Gryphons can win the final three matches, they still could sneak into the postseason.

"These are three winnable games for us," Espinoza said. "It gives us something to play for. We just have to continue to play well."

TJCA begins that stretch Thursday night as they travel to face Lincoln Charter.


Prep soccer

at Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy

Monday, April 28, 2014

Thomas Jefferson 3, Highland Tech 0

Highland Tech          0   0 — 0

Thomas Jefferson  3   0 — 3

First half — TJCA: Burleson (Tevis), Hollifield (Tevis), Burleson (Tevis). Saves: TJCA: Nelson 4, Team 1.