Gryphons score late preserving unbeaten record

Oct. 01, 2013 @ 07:17 AM

Alain Colnot scored a game winning goal in the 71st minute to help the Thomas Jefferson Gryphons survive a scare from the Highland Tech Rams 2-1 in Avondale Monday.

The win keeps the Gryphons’ (9-0-1, 3-0 SPC ) unbeaten record intact.

“Sometimes you will have soccer matches where you don’t play well and we did not play well tonight,” said TJCA head coach Brian Espinoza. “The good teams find a way to win though, and we have a good team.”

As is their style, TJCA spent the first five minutes passing in the back.

They decided to push forward in the 6th, and it paid immediate dividends. Aaron Alexander dribbled down the far sideline. He chipped a pass to Nathan Mackey in the box Mackey’s shot was punched away, but the ball fell right to Alexander who buried a shot for a 1-0 TJCA lead.  

From that point, the Rams packed 10 players in the back on defense. The Gryphons were content to keep possession and rarely made a push forward. 

Reserve John Kean nearly made a grand entrance in the match in the 33rd minute. He gathered in a pass from Joseph Pate on the near sideline in the 33rd minute. But his shot was just wide.

“They played 10 men in the back,” said Espinoza. “Give them tons of credit. They played so well and deserved to be in the game with us. We just need to learn how to break teams down when teams pack it in like that.”

TJCA goalkeeper Stephen Maimone was rarely tested in the first half, but he did make a diving stop on Owen Levy’s attempt in the 37th minute to keep TJCA in the lead 1-0 at the break.

The Rams were more aggressive in the second half. They committed more players forward in an attacking position to keep constant pressure on Maimone.

The senior keeper responded well, coming off his line on several occasions to thwart dangerous attacks.  In the 64th minute, that pressure finally paid off. Colnot committed a foul just outside the box. The resulting free kick was cleared but Levy chased down the ball. He used his body to ward off a pair off defenders and put a shot in the far side of the net for the equalizer.

“He (Levy) is a great player,”  said Espinoza. “He is their entire offense. He worked hard for a shot and it went in. He deserved that goal.”

That goal also seemed to galvanize the Gryphons’ attack.  

Off the restart, Colnot delivered a ball over the top to Mathias Talbert.

Talbert beat the goalie with his shot, but it deflected off the far post and was cleared.

The pair hooked up again for the game winner  in the 71st minute. Talbert ran down a long pass from Colnot in the box. Instead of taking a shot however, he waited for help form a hard-charging Colnot who was coming up the near wing.

The Ram goalie decided to come off his line and pressure Talbert, but he flicked the ball to Colnot who tapped the ball in an empty net for the decisive score.

TJCA had to with stand on final Rams’ charge as Highland Tech earned a corner kick with 1.8 seconds left. They brought the goalie up to have 11 men in the box for the set piece but the ball was headed away to preserve the 2-1 win.      

TJCA returns to the pitch Wednesday as they travel to face Community School of Davidson.