Grace Christian Raleigh’s boys soccer team returned plenty of seniors, but the Eagles opened the year needing to develop a go-to player to lift them into contention for the Eastern Plains Independent Conference title.
Trinity Academy of Raleigh is a young-but-talented team that is capable of playing at least a spoiler role. Given time, the Tigers could mature into a contender.
The two teams played up to their preseason projections when they met in their league opener Tuesday afternoon at Grace Christian.
Trinity (2-1, 0-1 EPIC) jumped out aggressively to a 2-0 lead in the first half, but Grace Christian (2-2, 1-0 EPIC) rallied with two goals in the second half and won the match in the second overtime period, 3-2.
The Eagles feature a dozen seniors on their roster, so head coach Roman Pibl feels good about his team’s experience and maturity. His concern has been a develop a go-to goal scorer to fill the hole left by the graduation of Austin Lang.
“We’re still adjusting to losing that scoring ability,” Pibl said. “But we pass the ball so well and control the ball. We just need to score better. We don’t have that killer instinct yet to put the ball in the net that we had with Austin Lang.”
One reason he expects a potent offense to develop is the Eagles are strong on defense.
“My defense is solid with Zach Bosco, Tyler Haugly and Jack Harrison,” Pibl said. “I’ve gone to three defenders were so good.”
Despite the Eagles digging a hole early, Pibl liked how his team rallied.
“This was what high school soccer is all about,” he said. “Our fans were great and our kids kept playing hard. Both teams didn’t quit.”
Veteran Trinity coach Steve Woodward likes his talent, but he says the sophomore-dominated Tigers need time to develop.
“I warned the guys very early on that we’re young, but we’re going to grow up during the season,” he said. “That’s what we saw today. You could see they wanted it. We surprised them early. I like our chances the rest of the season.”
One of the sophomores leading Trinity is goalie Luke Trebel. Grace managed to keep the ball in Trinity’s end of the field most of the second half, but Trebel responded with seven second-half saves and two more in overtime.
He also recorded to spectacular diving saves in the first half.
“Our goalie is a talented, talented kid,” Woodward said.
2nd minute: Trinity’s Justin Hofer took advantage of a ball that skipped behind Grace Christian’s charging goalie and chased it down for a tap-in.
13th minute: Trinity’s Austin Gronewald got behind the defense on a breakaway and was able score easily one-on-one situation.
Halftime: Trinity Academy 2, Grace Christian 0.
49th minute: Grace senior Peter Morrow scored in a crowd in front of the goal.
59th minute: Grace senior Tyler Haugly sent a free kick from 40 yards out to 8th-grader Spencer Keiswitter, who squarely met the ball on one hop and redirected it into the corner of the net.
End of Regulation: Trinity 2, Grace Christian 2.
92nd minute: Grace senior Borja Garcia-Conde beat the goalie to a free ball 10 yards out and was able to tap in the winning goal.
THEY SAID IT
“Tyler kicked a heck of a ball. I just had to get my foot on it at the end. I saw no one as going to get it and made it cut to the near post. I love playing on varsity with these guys.” – Keiswitter on his game-tying goal.