Lions Advance to Championship After Defeating Richland 2-1

The captains take the coin toss to start the game. Faith would beat Richland 2-1.

The captains take the coin toss to start the game. Faith would beat Richland 2-1.

NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, Texas – Grapevine Faith continued their deep run in the Grapevine-Richland Winter Blast tournament today defeating host-team Richland 2-1. The Lions will play in the Championship game tonight against the winner of the second semifinal game between Arlington Martin and Keller high schools.

The game started with heavy midfield play from Richland that had the Lions scrambling on defense. When the Lions finally did break through the midfield, however, they easily took charge on offense as their forwards had a sizable advantage over Richland’s defense with their speed. Late in the first half, the Lions earned a corner kick and senior Drake Reeves easily put the ball past the keeper on a flat-footed header.

Drake Reeves scored the game winning goal on a penalty kick late in the second half.

Drake Reeves scored the game winning goal on a penalty kick late in the second half.

Richland tied the game midway through the second half, but surrendered a penalty kick after fouling Michael Hinkley in the goal-box. Reeves took the kick and aimed low at the right-hand corner of the goal. The keeper gave a half-hearted effort and watched as the ball settled in the back of the net. The Lions held on through a very physical ending to the game to win and advance.

“It was fun to score both goals because I play defense so I don’t get a chance to score a lot,” Reeves said.

The Lions battle for a corner kick. Their first goal came off of a corner.

The Lions battle for a corner kick. Their first goal came off of a corner.

Faith’s goalkeeper Chapman Odom has been getting more work than he is used to at this tournament. He has come up with some very big saves to keep the Lions close in difficult games. “These are some of the toughest teams faith Soccer has ever played,” he said. “The most difficult part was playing so many games in such a short time frame and losing some key players.”

The Lions will have a tough task ahead of them tonight in the championship game. Friday’s games took a toll on them with injuries. Sophomores Carson Green (bruised kidney) and Brendan Massie (ankle) both went down Friday for the remainder of the tournament. The rest of the team is struggling physically as well. “We were really sore,” Reeves said. “We’re as tired as a bag of dead trucks.” He also noted the loss of Massie saying, “He’s key to our midfield.”

“You know, when we have guys go down, our bench, we don’t have that many players,” Lions assistant coach Todd Pipes said. “We can’t just pull two more seniors onto the field.”

Tonight may very well be the biggest game of the year for the three-time state champion Lions. “Winning would mean a lot of respect from other schools,” Reeves said. “It would show that we’re as good, if not better than any school in the state.”

Senior Michael Nolan was a large part of the heavy midfield play in the first half.

Senior Michael Nolan was a large part of the heavy midfield play in the first half.

“I mean, you got to think, the teams that we played today are ranked top ten in the nation. This is amazing,” Pipes said. “Their senior class has more people than our entire high school — all of these schools. Think about that.”

Odom said the Lions need “endurance and something to get us all riled up” in tonight’s final because “we are tired and a little beat up.”

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