If No. 1 seed Faith Christian remains as dominant as it was against Devon Prep in the District 1 Class A semifinals, there may not be a team left that can beat it. In their first district playoff game, the Lions showed just how good they really are.
Led by Jack Henley's two-goal performance and a masterful outing in the midfield, Faith Christian cruised to 5-1 win over Devon Prep. The match was knotted at 1-1 for a bit early on, but once the Lions took control of possession, it was over. It was not that Devon Prep played poorly, but that Faith played so well as a cohesive unit for 80 minutes.
"I thought our guys played well from the start,' Faith coach Ryan Clymer said. "We relaxed a little bit in the middle of the first half, but we came out strong and refocused in the second half. We put a couple goals in the net early and that was the difference.'
It did not take long for the Lions to get on the board. Although Devon Prep had its share of attacking possessions in the opening 20 minutes, Faith always looked more of a threat to score. The first true sign of brilliance came in the 12th minute, when Henley chested down a pass just inside the 18-yard box and blasted it past the keeper on the volley. It was an emphatic way to open the scoring, as the Lions appeared the more dangerous side.
Seven minutes later, Devon Prep was awarded a fairly soft penalty call and converted to tie the match at one. However, that would be the last time the match was close.
In the 24th minute, Henley put a pretty cross through the 18 and Zac Hamilton hit it home on the other end. While that was essentially the match-winner, the Lions had a lot more in the tank. They did not score again for the rest of the half and went into the break up just one goal. Devon Prep must have thought it was right in the thick of things.
They could not have been more wrong. Faith came out after halftime and imposed its will, scoring three more goals and absolutely dominating possession. The midfield was at its best in the second stanza, connecting and making runs while anticipating each other's every move. Midfielders and forwards alike were everywhere, hitting the ball from near and far and everywhere in between. It was no surprise that the Lions opened the floodgates early in the second half.
"Our coach tells us what to do and we follow,' Henley said. "We are just mentally preparing ourselves. We know that no matter who we play in the final, it's going to be a tough match. Everything we do it for the team. Whatever we do, we do it all together.'
Murrilo Da Silva started things off in the 43rd minute when he smashed a curling shot from way beyond the box that hit the bottom of the cross bar and went over the line. After continued waves of pressure, Trevor Chew put Faith's fourth goal in by distributing a Cole Adams pass into the back of the net on yet another attractive buildup. Finally, with two minutes remaining, Henley took on three defenders on his own down the end line and scored on an impressively tight angle.
"We have mature players that play with each other year round,' Clymer said. "Finally a lot of these guys are seniors and are getting a chance to shine. They are unselfish, sometimes a bit too much so, we are playing well right now.'
It was a comprehensive effort by the Lions who have state title on their minds.
"District One is a tough district to come out of,' Clymer said. "The winner of District One has a chance to play at Hershey later on. Right now, we'll take it one day at a time, but we know if we win districts we have a good shot at states.'