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Soccer: Crain nets 3 goals to help Pinecrest to 1A Private title match
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Pinecrest Academy players celebrate Monday during a win against Wesleyan in the Class 1A Private Elite Eight. The Paladins beat Athens Academy on Thursday to reach the state championship match. - photo by David Roberts

By Derrick Richemond

drichemond@forsythnews.com

Ivey Crain sped past and outran defenders Thursday, scoring three goals to help Pinecrest's No. 1 girls soccer team to the Class 1A Private championship with a 3-2 win against Athens Academy in the Final Four.

“That’s going to be from my genetics, from my mom and my dad, because I always had that. But I'm very blessed,” Crain said regarding her quickness.

“We probably could’ve scored two or three others that would’ve made it a little easier, but you know what, this team preservers. [They] did a great job of what they’re supposed to do and then feel this incredible feeling to get the win,” Pinecrest coach Domenic Martelli said.

Athens Academy struck first, when Lily Tillman set up ClaraJane Williams, who came across and headed the ball into the back of the net.

Off a Spartans corner kick, Pinecrest senior Grace Fowler launched the ball downfield. Crain raced to greet the ball and accelerated past three Spartans down the field from the opposing 30-yard line. She blew through the midfield, and as she approached the goalkeeper, she launched it with her right foot toward the corner of the goal for a Pinecrest goal.

Moments later, Crain dribbled around her defender and tried to shoot into the goal, but the ball collided with Athens Academy defender Mckenna Friesen’s foot and rolled into the net for Crain’s second goal before halftime.

Four minutes into the second half, Crain received a pass from Fiamma del Balzo and sprinted from the 40-yard line to beat two defenders and power the ball into the back of the net. 

As she cheered with her teammates, the crowd chanted MVP.

“To see her break free three times brought us back to the middle of the season when she was healthy, and I can guarantee she’s not leaving the field without doing what she can to get us a win,” Martelli said.

A corner kick by the Spartans ended with the ball landing in traffic. Multiple Paladins tried to clear the ball away from the goal, but the ball rolled over to Madeline Ransom, who kicked the ball in to cut the deficit to 3-2.

“No real sweat on running a play. It was all corner kicks -- that's what their strengths are. But we stopped them everywhere else on their field, [but] they couldn’t stop us,” Martelli said.

The Paladins will face Holy Innocents' next week in the Class 1A Private state championship match.

“I think both teams played amazing on both sides of the ball. Obviously, it didn’t come easy. We had to work really, really hard to get that win. We plan to do that in the state championship,” Crain said.