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Cyclones run past Warriors 6-1 into MACAA semis

For a team loaded with high-level youth soccer players at the middle school level, Community Christian may no longer be able to conceal its “secret weapon” in Gracie Beamon.

The Cyclones junior defender played lockdown defense and even scored a goal, her third, as CCS knocked off visiting Gramercy Christian of Newport 6-1 in the first round of the Mid-Atlantic Christian Athletic Association 2-A girls soccer playoffs Monday, April 29. Community Christian, the No. 1 seed from the North Division, scored three goals in each half and outshot the Warriors 18-6 to advance to Friday’s semifinals at Faith Christian in Goldsboro. Ava Dunn, one of six eighth graders in the lineup, had a hat trick for mthe Cyclones (12-4) who will take on the winner of Tuesday’s quarterfinals match between Suffolk Christian and New Bern Christian.

CCS head coach Carl Bradshaw said that Beamon’s assignment was to mark either of Gramercy’s top two threats, Leighton Overall or Paige Gafford.

“We did not want them to get a shot on goal,” Bradshaw said. “That was the goal. And Gracie just, I mean, honestly she shut No. 10 down and she shut No. 8 down, whichever one she was man-marking at the time. To me, she was the game changer. And then our back line — Amy Guzman, Katelyn Brown and Libby Bass — they just played really, really smart. We’ve been really talking about clearing the ball out and they did a really good job of that. So yeah, I think our defense was honestly what did it for us tonight.”

Overall scored the only goal for the Warriors (4-7-1), but it came on a penalty kick in the 71st minute with CCS ahead 5-0 after Gafford was taken down in the box.

Bradshaw said that Beamon’s defensive focus has given the Cyclones a boost, which is impressive considering that Beamon is playing soccer for the first time at CCS. Previously, she played softball for the Cyclones.

“She doesn’t like it when I bring her up in front of the team, even if it’s positive, like she’s very humble,” Bradshaw said. “And like I told her tonight, ‘Gracie, the last two games we’ve won, it’s been because of you.’

“And she gets embarrassed and whatever, but I’m telling you she, No. 1, is our most improved player and No. 2, the last two games she has been a difference-maker.”

Beamon got into the scoring act in the first half when she timed a header on Barrett Godwin’s corner kick for a picturesque goal in the 20th minute.

“We’ve been working on it in practice,” Bradshaw said. “And you know how it is, man. When you’re coaching you work on things and then they turn around and do what you’ve been working on, it doesn’t get any better than that.”

That goal followed a pair of goals by Dunn, who scored in the fourth minute off a pass from Haley Brown and then again when the ball caromed off her in a scrum in front of the goal and into the net in the 11th minute. 

Dunn got her hat trick 11 minutes into the second half on a long run down the right side and a shot to the far post. Godwin served up another assist from the corner as Autumn Bradshaw finished it for a 5-0 lead with 10 minutes to play.

The Warriors averted the shutout with Overall’s PK goal just a minute later before Abril Ventura scored with three seconds on the clock for CCS.

Claire Carter came up with five saves for the Cyclones.