GU heads to soccer playoffs

Peter Diezel (No. 7) works the ball past Horizon's Christian's Paul Rovianek (No. 3) to teammate Kerry Ashmead in Grant Union's 2-1 victory over the Hawks on Saturday, Oct. 18. The win assured the Prospectors a return trip to the state soccer playoffs set to begin on Nov. 1. The Eagle/TIM ADAMS

Grant Union def. Horizon Christian 2-1

JOHN DAY - Coming off a 6-1 defeat at the hands of Umatilla Thursday, Oct. 16, the Grant Union High School soccer team had its back to the wall taking on Horizon Christian in the final Mountain West Conference match of the season Saturday, Oct. 18.

With a post-season playoff position on the line, the Prospectors knew they had to win or it was all over until 2004.

Grant Union began the match with aggressive play and kept the pressure on the Hawks for the entire 80 minutes. A pair of goals by Kevin Percy gave the Prospectors a 2-1 victory and a return trip to the post-season.

"We played an outstanding game. Today was the third or fourth time this season that we've stepped up and played to our potential," Grant Union coach Ken Purnell said. "We dominated the game from start to finish, and they're lucky it was only a 2-1 score."

Grant Union (2-3-1 league) peppered Hawks' goal keeper Aaron Griffin with shots early in the match, and a kick by Kerry Ashmead in the first five minutes nearly went in the net but glanced off the crossbar.

In the waning moments of the first half, the Prospectors worked the ball in front of the Horizon Christian goal, and Percy was able to put a header in the net past Griffin thanks to assists from Ashmead and Brody Coxen for a 1-0 lead igniting the large home-field crowd.

On the ensuing kickoff, Horizon Christian's Cheyne Swick surprised everyone by taking an immediate shot at the goal.

Aided by a stiff wind, the ball took an unusual bounce and went over Grant Union goal keeper Cody Boyer's head to tie the score at 1-1.

Undaunted, the Prospectors came back and continued to put pressure on the Horizon Christian goal and the first half ended in a tie score.

In the second half Grant Union continued to move the ball and at the 51-minute mark, Percy broke through the Horizon Christian defense and beat Griffin with a shot in the lower right corner of the net for what proved to be the match-winning goal.

The Prospectors had several chances to up the lead in the remaining minutes of the match but Griffin was up to the task, making 10 saves in the second half alone.

Grant Union out-shot Horizon Christian 31-12 in the match.

"I was surprised we didn't put the ball away more than we did," Purnell said. "We controlled the ball in the air and that was important. Everyone played a good game and even when we substituted, we didn't miss a beat. We just wanted the game more than they did."

The Prospectors are idle until Nov. 1 when they open the first round of the state playoffs.

Purnell said the opponent is up in the air right now, but Grant Union will be on the road against either Columbia Christian, North Clackamas Christian or Portland Adventist.

"Our opponent will be decided in a game on Oct. 28," he said.

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