Colnot injured in Gryphons’ win
The Thomas Jefferson Gryphons (16-1-1) may have picked up a victory over the Mitchell Mountaineers Wednesday in the opening round of the NCHSAA playoffs, but it came at a high price.
Senior striker and leading scorer Alain Colnot suffered an apparent collar bone injury in the 55th minute and will miss at least the next round on Saturday.
“It’s tough to lose a player of Alain’s caliber,” said TJCA head coach Brain Espinoza. “It looks like a broken collar bone, but I don’t know for sure. I do know that he will be out Saturday and maybe the rest of the year.”
The injury occurred on a scramble for the ball in front of the Mitchell (0-18) goal.
Several players collided and the play resulted in an own goal to make the score 5-0, but Colnot stayed down and had to be eventually helped from the field.
“It’s just one of those things that happen,” Espinoza said. “We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. I told the team that we had to come together and somebody was going to have to step up. We are going to put Grant Hernandez in Alain’s spot and he is a very good player, but replacing a senior with a freshman is tough.”
TJCA showed they were the superior side as they garnered four shots and three corners in the opening five minutes. The barrage kept coming but Nathan Mackey’s ad Devon Reeves’ shots were just high. That pressure paid off in the 13th minute.
On yet another corner kick, Mackey put the ball right on the head of Stephen Snyder who finished for a 1-0 Gryphon lead.
Moments later, TJCA struck again. This time Mackey popped the ball over the top to Colnot. Colnot cut to his left and sent a shot in the far corner of the net for a 2-0 advantage.
Armed with a two-goal lead, the Gryphons concentrated on possession for the rest of the half. They did push players forward in the 32nd minute and it paid off in a goal. Joseph Pate made a long run and when two defenders converged on him, he slid the ball to Colnot for an easy score and a 3-0 halftime lead.
“We know Mitchell was a very weak side and we wanted to work on possession,” Espinoza said. “We did a good job of that at times but it could have gone better.”
The second half began identically to the first when the Gryphons had numerous chances but didn’t score. That all changed in the 50th minute. Mathias Talbert found Joseph Pate all alone on the near side for the uncontested goal.
After Colnot was injured in the 55th minute, Espinoza cleared his bench and the role players finished the match with a 5-0 score.
With the win, TJCA advances to host the winner of the Pine Lake Prep and Lincoln Charter Saturday. Kickoff is sensitively set for 6 p.m.