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Cougars Final 4 host

The No. 1-seeded Grace Christian Academy Cougars are the Panhandle Christian Conference’s Eastern Regional soccer champions.

They captured the title with a 5-3 Eastern Regional Tournament championship game victory over the second-seeded Emmanuel Christian School Warriors from Dothan Ala. Oct. 11 at the Bainbridge-Decatur County YMCA field.

Cougars senior goalkeeper Jon Ward was selected the tournament’s most valuable player.

Friday and today, the Cougars are hosting the Conference’s Final 4 Tournament at the YMCA.

The Cougars, coached by Grace Athletic Director Justin Gravlee, struck quickly with four goals against Emmanuel Saturday.

They played the No. 2 seed from the Western Region Friday. The championship game will be today at noon.

The Cougars went up 1-0 when Tyler Friday fired an unassisted goal into the right side of the net that was initiated by a Leonard Sheppard deep throw in.

Kyle Harris made it 2-0 in the 11th minute when he gained control of the ball at midfield and beat the goalkeeper for a goal after dribbling just outside the six-yard box.

Friday and Harris scored the third and fourth goals in the 23rd and 48th minutes. Friday’s goal came on a header following a corner kick with an assist from Harris, and Harris’ goal came on a shot into the left side of the net with an assist from Friday.

Emmanuel cut the lead to 4-1 in the 55th minute on a Jonathan Messer penalty kick following a deliberate handball in the box. The Cougars bounced back with a goal in the 75th minute to move the lead back out to five, at 5-1. It was scored by Kenneth Burke, who finished a corner kick by Marcus King.

Emmanuel’s final two goals came in the 78th and 80th minutes. Both were scored by Messer, the first on a penalty kick following a deliberate handball in the box, and the second when he received a through-ball and won a one-on-one competition with the goalkeeper.

The Cougars had 21 shots in the championship game, seven by Friday, seven by Harris, two by King, and one each by Sheppard, Trea Kelly, Burke, Jared Long and Chase Harris.

Joe Crine can be reached by e-mail at joe.crine@thepostsearchlight.com, or telephone at (229) 246-2827, Ext. 116.