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RADFORD –– The Galax boys’ soccer team plays with heart. It plays with brains. The team plays with backbone, and it plays with guts.
Wednesday night it played with…scapula?
A shoulder blade-guided goal was just one of the numerous ways in which the Maroon Tide found the net as Galax demolished Auburn 9-0 in the Region 1A West semifinals at Norman Lineburg Field on the Radford High School campus.
The Maroon Tide (17-1-1) returned to Radford today (Friday) for another regional showdown with the host Bobcats (9-5-3), who escaped George Wythe 4-2 in overtime in the first semifinal. Both teams advance to next Friday’s state semifinals at Radford University.
With threatening storm clouds rolling in from the northwest, Galax threatened the Auburn defense relentlessly through the first half. Dominic DiGiacomo put the Maroon Tide on the board with the match barely four minutes old, leaping to redirect a waist-high Mario Carranza centering pass from about eight yards away.
A defensive miscue by Auburn (12-8) set up Galax’s second goal as a leading pass was whiffed by an Eagle defender, leaving Edgar Guzman alone with the ball on the right side of the 18. Carranza was waiting on the back side and bumped in Guzman’s feed for a 2-0 lead in the 14th minute.
The Maroon Tide had two shots from inside of five yards blocked by Auburn defenders before Brayan Estrada collected the ball up top and drilled home Galax’s third goal of the half.
The Maroon Tide tacked on two goals in the final six minutes of the half, including a blind redirect from Carranza. Off of an Isaac Jordan assist, Carranza stood with his back to the goal some 10 yards away and leaned forward, letting the ball skip from between his shoulder blades and trickle into the Auburn net. Two minutes later, Sebastian Gomez connected on a rebound for a 5-0 Galax lead at the break.
Galax outshot the Eagles 16-2 in the first half, putting 10 shots on goal to Auburn’s one. The Eagles rarely penetrated the Maroon Tide’s back line but found itself with a prime scoring chance late in the half, but Sean Wilkins’ attempt scooted wide left.
The skies opened up during halftime, but the slick field did little to slow down the Maroon Tide attack. Carranza faked the Auburn keeper left and launched a low shot to inside the near post in the 49th minute, and Jonathan Reyna drilled a rising shot into the upper right corner five minutes later.
A battle for the ball in front of the 6-yard box was eventually won by Denver Nuckolls, who pounded his shot inside of the back post with 25 minutes to play, and Joshel Urbina capped the scoring by converting a Jerson Mazariegos pass with 12 minutes showing.
Auburn’s best scoring chance of the night was stopped short by a fine defensive effort from Mother Nature. An Eagle corner kick resulted in a Galax foul in the box, but with Auburn setting up for the penalty kick a flash of lightning sent the players from the field, and the game was ended with 10:14 remaining.
A Galax win in tonight’s title game will give the Maroon Tide the 10 a.m. slot in next Friday’s state semifinals at R.U. against the East region runner-up. The Radford-Galax loser will play the East champion at noon at Salem High School.
Galax 9, Auburn 0
Region 1A West semifinals
Halftime – Galax 5, Auburn 0
Scoring: Gx – DiGiacomo 4’ (Carranza); Gx – Carranza 14’ (Guzman); Gx – Estrada 30’ (unassisted); Gx – Carranza 35’ (Jordan); Gx – Gomez (36’) unassisted); Gx – Carranza 49’ (unassisted); Gx – Arce 54’ (unassisted); Gx – Nuckolls 55’ (unassisted); Gx – Urbina 68’ (Mazariegos).
Shots (on goal) 6(3) 32(21)
Fouls 1 7
Corner kicks 2 9
Offsides 2 1
Yellow cards 0 0
Red cards 0 0
Saves 12 3
Saves – (Aub) Woodrum 12; (Gx) Solis 2, Ortiz 1.