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Eagles fend off Marshall, 2-1; face Calloway in tonight's 2nd District championship

Graves County midfielder Cameron Pickens (2) battles a Marshall County player for the ball in Wednesday night's Second District Tournament semifinal.

JOSEPH "PEE WEE" PETTY/The Mayfield Messenger

By ERIC WALKER

Sports Editor

With a shot at advancing to the Second District Soccer Championship for the fifth straight year, Graves County knew its game plan had to be fending off Marshall County's shots.

And the Marshals shot. A lot.

Over 20 times, Marshall County fired rounds at the Eagles' net and made plenty more attempts to strike but were constantly rebuffed by a solid defensive wall and a super heroic presence in goalkeeper Luis Macias.

That contrasted the handful of shots - with just three on goal - Graves County took against Marshall. But two of those proved to be what was needed here Wednesday night to move the Eagles into the title match, 2-1.

After a scoreless first, midfielder Ricardo Morales found the net on a free kick 11 minutes into the second half. Thirteen minutes later, Juan Carrillo did likewise with a deep strike that fell into the goal past keeper Tyler Belcher.

Despite Austin Stockdale sneeking a five-hole shot under Macias nearly a minute later that pulled the Marshals within a goal, Graves' defense continually rose to the physical and testy challenge presented.

"We knew they were going to come at us," Graves County head coach Michael Lane said. "We've been working, finding counters. Knowing the way we play, we don't make a lot of shots on goal. We just have to make the ones we take count."

Marshall County, seeded second in the tournament, came in wanting to snap its four-game losing streak. The Marshals had started the season like gangbusters, going 7-2 and 4-1 in the district. But since a 3-1 win over Murray, they slipped to 1-6-1 the rest of the regular season.

Macias was the cornerstone for the Eagles' defense with his nine recorded saves while also dealing with the pressure of Marshall's onslaught.

"Good goalkeepers, they keep teams, when they're not playing their best, in games and he kept us in the game," Lane said. "The defense stuck it out for us."

Lane credited the whole team, though, with getting Graves County back into place to defend its district title against a Laker club the Eagles have faced the past two years in the championship match.

"I don't think teams thought we'd be back here," he said. "I owe a lot to these boys. They've believed in the things I've told them to not give up and believe in themselves."

The championship will take place at GCHS following the girls' championship between Marshall County and Murray at 5:30 p.m. today.

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SCORING

First half - No score. Second half - GC Ricardo Morales, 51'; GC Juan Carrillo, 72'. MC Austin Stockdale (Seth Strader assist), 73'.

STATISTICS

Saves - MC Tyler Belcher 1; GC Luis Macias 9.

Shots on Goal - Marshall 10, Graves 3.