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Kickers top Gators
Bainbridge dominates to advance to quarterfinals.
The Bainbridge boys’ soccer team has not had much success in the state tournament.
The Spartans have won only one game in the 12 times they have qualified for the state tournament and have been shut out in their last seven games dating back to 2001.
But the Spartans wrote a new page of history Tuesday night, blowing out the Decatur Gators 7-0 in an opening round match at Memorial Stadium. They advance to the quarterfinals for the first time since 1997.
Bainbridge (14-3-1) will play at home Friday against Mount Vernon, beginning at 7 p.m.
It’s also the first time Bainbridge has held an opponent scoreless and shattered the school record for most goals scored in a single tournament game.
“I thought that if we scored early – there’s a chance in any game that if you get an early goal, more will come – but I didn’t think it would be a 7-0 game,” head coach George Vukic said. “We got a couple of goals and (Decatur’s) heads went down a little bit and confidence grew within us and we loosened up.
“In this environment (being at home), the kids are feeling all the electricity and it all came together,” he continued.
The Spartans took advantage of the Decatur defense, which was playing high up the field, by using their speed to get past the opponent with through balls and passes over the top.
“I expected them to be playing a center sweeper to pick up all that loose stuff back there,” senior forward Alex Raquer said. “But they were playing a flat four every time.”
The Spartans had several attempts on goal in the first half and finally broke through in the 27th minute.
Raquer made a great run down the right channel, then put a perfect cross to the foot of Brad Olson for the score.
“I was trying to juke him but I realized the ball was going out (of bounds),” Raquer said. “I timed it as I was looking up and I saw Brad and thought that was my best chance.”
Raquer scored his 14th goal of the season when he got a great pass over the top and faked out Decatur goalkeeper Zach Gippe for the score.
A few minutes later, Connor Winship scored on an easy put-back when a cross by Michael Crowley went off the fingertips of Gippe.
It was more of the same in the second half as Bainbridge put the hammer down.
Crowley scored off a penalty kick when Sebastian Scales drew a foul in the box while Winship scored on another put-back and Olson chipped a shot over Gippe for his second of the game.
Decatur rounded out the scoring for Bainbridge with an own goal.
Vukic gave high praise to Winship for his play.
“I told (assistant coach Scott) Druker on the bench that it’s time for the Connor Winship Show,” he said. “That’s exactly what we saw.”
Nic Miller was in goal the entire game to earn a clean sheet.
John Becerra Jr./Staff Photo
Alex Raquer readies for a shot on goal during Bainbridge's 7-0 win over Decatur in a 3A state tournament game at Memorial Stadium.