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Basketball games every now and then will feature a player who would rather set up an easy bucket for a teammate than going to the hole himself. In that respect, the Galax boys’ soccer team has plenty of point guards.
That’s not implying there’s a dearth of scorers among the Maroon Tide. On the contrary.
Galax shared the love with some stellar ballhandling and precision passing, backed up by a rear guard of defenders that was all but impenetrable for the first 60 minutes as the Tide dissected Marion for six first-half goals en route to a 7-2 win Thursday night.
For a club that lost eight key players from a supremely talented state semifinalist team of a year ago, a 3-0 start to this season with a goal differential of plus-17 bodes extremely well for the Maroon Tide.
“I’ve heard it a few times this year how we were supposed to be down after graduating so much, but the VHSL really helped us a lot by allowing us to practice year-round now,” said Galax coach Troy Barkley. “The majority of these guys, where they don’t play anything else, we’ve been working since about August, and they’re seeing that hard work pay off.”
Five different players scored at least one goal each for Galax – including two each by Edgar Guzman and Emeterio Arce – and two others got in the book via an assist. Maroon Tide keeper Misael Solis could have caught up on his homework had he so chosen during his time in goal, facing zero shots and almost as few threats in the first half.
“It doesn’t make any difference who scores or how we score, but that we are scoring,” Barkley said. “They’ve adapted to that. I think we had five different players score tonight, and they don’t care as long as we’re playing together and winning.”
All of Galax’s first-half highlights came in the form of a goal scored, starting with two strikes in the first 11 minutes. Deep in the left corner, Juan Sanchez connected with Isaac Tracy just inside the 18, and Tracy dropped the ball back to Dominic DiGiacomo top-center. Unmarked, DiGiacomo fired a rocket into the upper right corner in the sixth minute to give Galax the lead for the rest of the night. Edgar Guzman doubled the lead five minutes later with a one-timer off a long throw-in from Isaac Jordan.
Galax continued to pepper the Scarlet Hurricane goal, taking seven shots before repeatedly catching Marion out of position and putting together a withering flurry of four goals in the final 18 minutes of the first half.
Arce zipped a centering pass across the 6-yard box, threading his feed just out of reach of Marion keeper Ryan Crowell to Mario Carranza for an easy backside goal in the 22nd minute. Sanchez scored less than a minute later on a semi-bicycle kick off a high ball inside the 18-yard box.
Arce added two goals before the half, first off of an assist from Guzman in the 25th minute. Seven minutes before the half, DiGiacomo had possession on the left side nearly at the end line when he whipped a centering pass seemingly through the hands of Crowell to Arce at the back post, who tapped in for a 6-0 lead at intermission.
Galax ate Marion’s lunch the entire first half by flipping the field, both defensively to offensively in the form of turning Hurricane advances into Maroon Tide breakouts, and by drawing defenders to one side of the zone and exploiting the open weak side.
“We’re trying to teach not to play the ball to the man but to play it to the space, and it’s exciting to see how they’re really figuring that out,” said Barkley. “They’re playing the ball where [their teammates] should be and we’re helping each other out that way.”
Galax capped the scoring four minutes into the second half when Sanchez centered to Guzman, whose spectacular diving header from 15 yards out beat Crowell.
Marion picked up its two goals on the Maroon Tide reserves, first on a breakaway by Keith Norris in the 59th minute and finally on a Logan Billings penalty kick with three minutes remaining.
Galax outshot Marion 26-4 on the night, including 16-0 in the first half. The Maroon Tide put 13 shots on goal to the Scarlet Hurricane’s two.
Galax 7, Marion 2
Halftime – Galax 6, Marion 0
Scoring summary: Gx – DiGiacomo 6’ (Tracy); Gx – Guzman 11’ (Jordan); Gx – Carranza 22’ (Arce); Gx – J.Sanchez 22’ (Guzman); Gx – Arce 25’ (Guzman); Gx – Arce 43’ (DiGiacomo); Gx – Guzman 44’ (Carranza); Mar – Norris 59’ (unassisted); Mar – Billings 77’ (pk).
Shots (on goal) 4(2) 26(13)
Fouls 2 8
Corner kicks 1 7
Offsides 0 1
Yellow cards 0 0
Red cards 0 0
Saves 6 0