Cougars take third

Published 8:29 am Thursday, October 30, 2008

Coach Justin Gravlee’s Panhandle Christian Conference Eastern Regional Champion Grace Christian Academy Cougars finished a strong third last weekend in the Conference’s Final 4 Soccer Tournament at the Bainbridge-Decatur County YMCA.

In game one on Friday, they lost a 1-0 heartbreaker to the Western Regional No. 2 seed and eventual overall champion Central Christian School Saints from Robertsdale, Ala. The Saints went on to edge the Western Regional top seed Aletheia Christian Academy Lions from Pensacola, Fla., 2-1 Saturday to win the Conference championship.

The Cougars nailed down third place with a 5-1 Saturday victory over the Emmanuel Christian School Warriors from Dothan, Ala., who they defeated 5-3 Oct. 11 at the YMCA to win the Eastern Regional Championship.

Five Cougars, seniors Anthony Henderson, Leonard Sheppard and Jared Long, along with sophomore Marcus King and freshman Kyle Harris, were selected to the All-Conference Team.

In Friday’s first-round Final 4 game with Central, the Saints scored in the 12th minute on a goal by Ricky Cooper following a crossing shot from the left by Jesse McCarty and made it hold up. Cooper scored on his only shot on goal. McCarty, who had the assist, had three shots on goal.

The Cougars had 19 total shots, five by Harris, four by Marcus King, four by Leonard Sheppard, three by Tyler Friday, one by Taylor McDonald, one by Trea Kelly and one by Jared Long.

The Saints had 15 shots on goal. In addition to the one by Cooper and three by McCarty, they had one each by Caleb Cody, David Harding, Bubba Dean, Stephen Kalinowski and Brad Yockers.

In their 5-1 Saturday third-place victory over the Eastern Region’s second-seeded Emmanuel Christian School Warriors, the Cougars were led by a three-goal hat trick performance by Marcus King.

King put the Cougars up 1-0 in the ninth minute when he kicked the ball into the net following a crossing pass from Harris. Harris increased the lead to 2-0 when he took a pass from Sheppard and beat the goalkeeper one on one.

Emmanuel cut it to 2-1 in the 55th minute on an unassisted goal by Jonathan Messer in the 55th minute. The Cougars then countered with three unanswered goals to win going away.

They were scored by Harris, with a shot from 25 yards out with an assist from McDonald in the 58th minute, King with an unassisted goal inside the six-yard box and King with an unassisted one on one goal in the 73rd minute.