SCCS wins Heritage League opener against Lancaster Baptist

Matt Thompson (22) of Santa Clarita Christian fights for the ball against Landon Cox (19), right of Thompson, and Daniel Lienart (17), left, during a match against Lancaster Baptist at Canyon Country Park on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

Santa Clarita Christian boys soccer’s Matt Thompson feels no shame when admitting he’s a little smaller than his teammates.

The freshman is at times outmatched when it comes to physical play, but there aren’t many more drawbacks to being a player of his stature.

“It’s a lot easier to get around, get in between people when you’re not having to … when you’re not big having to run through people. So you can use it,” he said.

Thompson used those abilities to score two goals in the Cardinals’ 3-1 win over Lancaster Baptist on Tuesday at Canyon Country Park.

Both teams were held scoreless in the first half, with most of the action happening at mid-field. Thompson took a shot from nearly the center circle as halftime neared, but the ball went wide left.

“I just told them at halftime, you’ve got to make yourself more available,” said coach Steven Cooper. “…Some of our players are very, very gifted in the ability to play the ball but you can’t stand there and watch.”

TJ Evans (12) of Santa Clarita Christian School winds up to take a shot on goal during a home match against Lancaster Baptist at Canyon Country Park on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

SCCS (1-1 overall, 1-0 in Heritage League) was more aggressive on the attack on the other side of the half and managed to capitalize on a penalty kick in the 45th minute. Thompson’s goal pulled the Cards ahead 1-0.

“I just wanted to take the penalty because I just wanted to get a goal, get on the board, get confident and stuff,” said Thompson. “So it was just, I stepped up and just put it in the corner.”

Three minutes later, the Eagles (0-2, 0-1) scored for themselves to ruin any chance of a shutout for SCCS.

In the 64th minute, Braeden Berentsen knocked in a throw-in from Thompson on a header for the Cardinals’ go-ahead goal.

The Cardinals’ final goal was born out of chaos. A cluster of players gathered in front of the net and remained there until Thompson managed to bury the ball in the 66th  minute.

The Eagles had one last scoring chance on a corner kick with minutes remaining in the game. SCCS goalkeeper Travis Bannerman blocked the initial shot, then was displaced while Lancaster Baptist fired off another. Bannerman dove left to cover the ball and seal the match.

The win was a solid way to open Heritage League play and bounce back from last week’s 4-0 loss to Desert Christian.

“It was definitely a good bounce-back,” said Thompson. “It was a tough loss (last week). It’s definitely good to just come out strong like this and get a good win.”

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