Gordon Central’s Kevin Valencia displayed his total package of skills on Wednesday night, using speed, agility, vision, instincts and finishing touch to have a record-breaking effort and lead his team to a dominant region win.
The senior captain scored a school-record six goals to set the tone for an 8-2 victory at home over Dade County. He also had one assist in the contest for Gordon Central (4-2-1, 4-1).
Gordon Central coach Matt Wiley said Valencia showed off why he’s such a tough task to account for for opposing teams.
“Kevin has been building up for years as a great player, and he’s so fast and really pressures the defense,” said Wiley, who is in his first year as Warriors head coach. “He pushes the wings and the middle and can read the ball extremely well along with the quickness and moves to get by defenders. Then when he gets a shot off he has phenomenal touch. With him and Johnny (Rivas), we’ve got a pair that really presses and stresses the defense.”
Valencia wasted little time getting the Warriors on the board with a goal in the third minute. He then added another in the ninth minute off an assist from Alfredo Olivares.
Valencia earned the early hat trick by shooting one into the back of the net off a pass from Wilson Falla for the assist.
After Dade County scored a goal in the 18th minute, the Warriors quickly responded to crush and chance of the Wolverines gaining momentum as they scored a goal in the 21st minute. This time it was Valentin Avalos who finished the goal off an assist from Valencia.
Valencia added two more goals in the final three minutes of the first half with assists coming from Falla and Kenneth Cua to give the Warriors a 6-1 halftime lead.
Dade County got their second goal shortly into the second half on a free kick from just outside the box to make it 6-2, but once again Gordon Central answered right back as Valencia connected on his sixth and final goal of the contest.
Late in the game, the Warriors added one more to the score sheet with Christian Taracena putting in a header off a nice cross from Oscar Monterozza for the assist.
Wiley said his team used their aggressive gameplan once again to have success like they have for much of the early season.
“Our first objective every night is to be aggressive to start the game and try to score first to get the opponent on their heels a little,” said Wiley. “We want to play aggressive, and I like to move the defenders up to stress the defense even more. We’ve done that a lot this season and have tried to control possession. Our whole team plays a part, including the defense who communicates well. We have a lot of options so we’re not very one-dimensional.”
The victory was the fourth straight for the Warriors, all coming in region games to bounce back from their region-opening loss to Pepperell. Wiley said that loss along with the non-region loss to Calhoun has served as motivation for his group to not let that happen again.
“After we lost our first game, I told them that was the last time we were going to lose a region game,” said Wiley. “We want to keep putting it on our opponents and improving because our goal is to win a region title and make sure the State playoffs are ahead for us. But our guys also are easy to reel in and not get overconfident. They know what our goal is and what it’s going to take to accomplish it.”
The Warriors are back home on Thursday to host Coosa. They host Pepperell on Monday at 7:30 p.m. for a big Region 7-AA contest as they look to avenge their loss earlier in the season.
In the Gordon Central-Dade County girls game earlier on Wednesday:
Dade County 8, Gordon Central 0
The Lady Warriors had a tough time getting anything going as Dade County possessed the ball and scored early and often to send them to a region loss.
Dade County scored seven goals in the first half and then added one more in the second half.
Gordon Central coach Melissa Garland said that Candy Avila was one of the bright spots on the day as goalkeeper.
“We’ve had so many injuries this year and haven’t been able to catch a break so far,” said Garland after the game.
The Lady Warriors host Coosa on Thursday, and they will be back at home on Monday to host Pepperell at 5:30 p.m.