GAC Spartans Win The GHSA 3A Title Behind Matthew Taylor Hat Trick
On Wednesday, the Greater Atlanta Christian Spartans boys soccer team took on the Oconee County Warriors in the Georgia High School Association Class 3A state championship game as the Warriors look to win their first title since 2019 and second in program history and the Spartans looked to claim their first since 2015 and sixth in program history.
It was a game in which both teams matched up well with one another almost as they both were aggressive with their attacks early on in the first half. The Warriors would break through first and score after a corner kick led to a Charlie Burke header goal to give Oconee a 1-0 lead. The Spartans would soon respond thanks to a penalty kick in which Matthew Taylor would connect for his first of three goals, tying the game 1-1.
The second half would start off with the same energy as the first, as both teams would once again be aggressive with their attacks, while getting great defensive play from their backlines. That would be the case until about 15 minutes into the half when a two man game between Damola Salami and Taylor would lead to Taylor’s second goal of the night, giving the Spartans a 2-1 lead.
The Spartans backline would go on to stand the test of time, not allowing the Warriors to even up the score, despite Oconee County getting several shots on goal in the second half. With time winding down in the match, a crucial moment would back fire on the Warriors as they moved to apply pressure with their attack, clearing the goal on a corner kick.
The Spartans would clear the ball which would end up at the feet of Taylor would score an uncontested goal, his third of the night, and the eventually goal to seal the win for the Spartans as they would go on to pick up the 3-1 victory. “All year long, it was like ‘we have to get back’ that was kind of our goal,” GAC head coach, Thomas Jacquet said after Wednesday’s win, as he reflected on this past season and how his guys approached it following their semifinals loss last season.
Jacquet recalled how last season’s loss to eventual state champ, Coahulla Creek, left the Spartans determined to get to the championship game this season and while in the locker room at the half, with the game tied up, the discussion amongst them led to one conclusion, “we knew where we wanted to be. We weren’t hopefully, we weren’t happy to be here, we knew where we wanted to be and knew we would be,” Jacquet said of the Spartans quest for the 2021-2022 GHSA 3A title.