BY MARY CLAIRE MORRIS
Hope was high in the Grady Stadium last Wednesday night as the boys varsity soccer team opened Region 5-AAA play against the Saint Pius X Catholic High School Golden Lions. Although the host Knights played well at times, the visiting Golden Lions came away with a 3-0 win.
“I give a lot of credit to our players for playing a good game,” Grady assistant coach Thomas Waller said. “We just didn’t put points on the board.”
Within the first three minutes Pius created an excellent scoring chance, but Grady goalie Phillip Suitts blocked the attempt to score. At the other end, Grady players got closer and closer to the goal, only to be pushed back by Pius’s defense.
“Even though the score doesn’t show it, we played well,” Knights freshman defender Parker Maubin said. “We just lost our concentration.”
About midway through the first half, a Knight “football-tackled” a Pius player in the goalie box, and Pius scored a goal on the ensuing penalty kick.
“We felt the penalty kick was a bit harsh but also knew we had a few chances that we should have put away,” Waller said.
Halfway through the first half, senior midfielder Nate James got a yellow card after tripping a Pius player. Winger Carlos Valdivieso, a sophomore, then got the ball past Pius’s offense which Pius defense player finally managed to kick out of bounds for a line throw in. Knights senior defender Whit Maupin attempted to score by a forceful kick, but the ball was blocked by the Pius goalie. The Knights shot many times on the goal, but never succeeded to get the ball past the Golden Lions goalie. A halftime, the score remained 1-0.
“Our halftime talk was positive,” Waller said. “Thomas Ruder beat his man to the end line and played a great ball across the face of the goal that we should have put away. If we had scored there, we have gone into halftime tied at 1-1. ”
In the second half, Knights forward Tim Adcock got fans cheering in the stands when he came close to scoring a goal. He narrowly missed the net and went over the goal post.
“The game has been very entertaining,” Grady sophomore and girls varsity soccer player Ellen Ericson– said. “The boys are very aggressive. It makes you sit on the edge of you seat.”
Pius scored an insurance goal five minutes into the second half of the game and then again three minutes later. In the last minute of the game, a Pius player lined up to shoot on the goal, but Knights goalie Phillip Suitts received a red-card penalty for tackling one of the Pius players, which sent Suitts to the bench for the rest of the game. Grady junior Sam Holder took his place as goalie for the last minute of the game.
“The great thing about our players,” said Waller, “is they got right back on their horse the next night and beat a tough Stone Mountain team to get the bad taste out of their mouth to get ready for Riverwood High School on Wednesday night in another tough important subregion match.”
Suitts faces a likely one-game suspension for the red card. He was not in action during the Knights’ 2-1 home victory over Stone Mountain on Friday night. His availability for Wednesday’s game is still uncertain. The Knights (4-2-1 overall and 0-1 in region play) will kick off against Riverwood (3-3-2 and 1-0) this Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. at Grady Stadium.
Pius, meanwhile, dispatched North Atlanta 6-0 at home on Saturday to run its overall mark to 4-0, including a perfect 3-0 in region play. The Lions continue their march through the region with a visit to North Springs (1-3 and 0-1) tonight at 7:30 p.m.