No saving Grace for Cycs

Guzman, Huston lead CCS into 2nd round 5-1

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Sophomore Salvador Guzman and senior Andrew Huston combined for four goals and three assists to lead the host Community Christian School varsity boys soccer team to a 5-1 victory against Grace Christian of Sanford in the opening round of the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association 1-A playoffs.

The Cyclones, one of eight teams playing in the first round of the 16-team bracket, erupted for four goals in a span of some 14 minutes to defeat Grace for the second time this season and advance into the second round on the road against No. 8-seeded Ridgecroft of Ahoskie on Thursday. During the regular season, CCS (9-9-1) thumped the Crusaders (10-7) of the Mideastern Carolina Conference, 9-3.

Guzman and Huston each netted two goals although Guzman shifted from forward to goalkeeper the final 20 minutes when starting seventh-grade keeper Seth Huston was injured. Andrew Huston notched two assists.

“Our goalie got hurt and they chose to move me in goal,” noted Guzman, who said he saw action at the position in Wilson Youth Soccer Association competition. “I think I did pretty good; I did my job. But I had rather play forward.”

CCS head coach Monica Mills commended Guzman’s play in goal (four saves), but assured: “We missed him at forward.”

Two teams that had scored 12 goals in the regular-season meeting battled scoreless until Andrew Huston converted an assist from Guzman on a well-executed play with 8 minutes, 23 seconds left in the opening half. Some six minutes later, Andrew Huston returned the favor with an assist to Guzman.

During his halftime comments, Grace head coach Tim Blodgett emphasized to his players the importance of scoring first and quickly in the second half — contending one of the most favorable deficits in soccer is 2-1.

Intead, Guzman scored on the kickoff with the aid of the second of Huston’s second assist.

“Soccer is a game of momentum and we couldn’t keep it,” Blodgett said. “We gave up the first, then second goal and lost momentum completely. After they got the fourth goal, it took the wind out of our sails a little bit. We really didn’t play our game.”

“But they’re a good team and a well-coached team,” he added of CCS. “They are physical and hard to play against.”

The Cyclones of the Coastal Independents Conference forged a 4-0 margin on senior Josh Webb’s booming shot from some 30 yards out that twisted away from Crusaders freshman keeper Lund Jensen.

Some five minues later, Grace answered with its goal, with freshman Braedan Voss working the ball to the breaking Ethan Spivey, a sophomore. Moments later, the Crusaders were unable to convert a free kick just outside the 18-yard box.

“If we had scored on that free kick, it might have been a different match,” Blodgett declared.

With just under six minutes remaining, CCS completed its scoring. Senior Austin Conway served the ball into the middle — where Andrew Huston fielded it and laced in his second goal.

Guzman reasoned the Cyclones didn’t score quickly because “they knew they could win and didn’t play hard.”

Added Mills: “We started off slow but ended well. We picked up more in center midfield. That’s where we were kind of losing it.”

CCS bowed 4-2 to Ridgecroft in its regular-season finale.

“I think we can do well,” Mills expressed, “we’re comparative.”