Oak Ridge senior forward Austin Vinyard scored four goals and had one assist as the Wildcats advanced to the District 3-AAA soccer championship with a 6-0 semifinal win over Halls on Wednesday.
Vinyard, who signed to play soccer at Maryville College on Thursday, said he also had four goals in a game last season, but his four goals and an assist on Wednesday may be a career high.
Oak Ridge, the number one seed, will play Central, the number two seed, in the District 3-AAA championship game, which starts at 7 p.m. today (Friday, May 12) at the Oak Ridge Soccer Complex at Oak Ridge High School.
The Wildcats were undefeated in the district during the regular season, and they beat the Bobcats 2-1 on Monday, April 24. Central’s only district loss during the regular season was to Oak Ridge, according to records posted on CoachT.com.
Central advanced to the District 3-AAA championship with a 4-0 win over Powell on Wednesday. Oak Ridge and Central will both advance to the Region 2-AAA championship.
The district tournament semifinal between Oak Ridge and Halls on Wednesday was scoreless through the first half, although Oak Ridge had opportunities, including some shots and headers right in front of the net. The Wildcats had a 10-5 shot advantage late in the first half, but they weren’t able to convert those shots into goals.
One of the keys to the first-half shutout for Halls was Red Devils goalkeeper Hayden Crittenden. He had a series of saves and deflections, including one where he had to come from behind Oak Ridge senior forward Masa Kato. Oak Ridge didn’t finish well in the first half, Coach Jeff Trombly said, and some of the shots were right at Crittenden.
The momentum changed significantly in the second half, when the Wildcats were able to break the offside trap of Halls.
Oak Ridge started running laterally across the field and then turning to run upfield at the right time, Vinyard said. They were also able to get shots past Crittenden, the Halls goalkeeper.
“We just got better finishing in the second half,” Trombly said.
Vinyard scored the first four goals for Oak Ridge. The first two came less than 30 seconds apart about five minutes into the second half.
“It helped a bunch,” Vinyard said of those back-to-back goals. “It’s like opening up a floodgate.”
Kato had assists on both of those first two goals, including one on a pass after spinning with the soccer ball in front of the net and passing to Vinyard on the left side of the field.
Vinyard’s next two goals were unassisted. He scored his third goal on a breakaway shot into the back left of the net past a diving Crittenden in the 72nd minute of the 80-minute game. Vinyard scored again about a minute later on a shot that curved in from left to right.
Vinyard then had an assist off a shot that bounced off Crittenden that Vinyard crossed from right to left to junior midfielder Casey Nigh, who scored on a header in the 76th minute.
The Wildcats scored their final goal on a breakaway shot by freshman Jonathan Rodriguez, who scored on a rebound off Crittenden with 1:22 remaining in the semifinal.
Like Crittenden, Oak Ridge goalkeeper Austyn Lincoln also had several diving saves during the game, including one on a penalty kick that Lincoln saved near the right upright.
Oak Ridge outshot Halls 25-14, and the Wildcats had nine corner kicks compared to three for the Red Devils.
You can see the 2017 District 3-AAA boys’ soccer tournament bracket here.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
See more photos here.
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