Two defenders closed in on Truman senior Marcus Martinez near the goal line inside O’Hara’s penalty box.
Following two touches on the ball and a fake move toward the center of the box, Martinez found himself less than 6 yards from the Celtics goalkeeper.
With no teammates to pass to, Martinez fired off a shot the only place he could at that angle, putting the ball in the small window between the goalie and the near post. The goal midway through the second half Thursday gave the Patriots a 1-0 win and the Raytown South Tournament championship.
“I was trying to take it down the line and pass it back to a teammate, but I didn’t see anybody, so I just took it in for myself,” Martinez said. “I saw the open shot near post. Sometimes you just have to be selfish as a forward.”
More crafty than selfish, Martinez’s goal capped a perfect week for new Truman coach Manny Tovar following wins over Grain Valley and Van Horn earlier in the tournament.
“That’s a great team we just beat. They won the Class 2 state title last year, so we were wanting to see where we were at,” Tovar said. “Beating teams like O’Hara and Grain Valley (a Class 3 final four team last year) tells us that we can compete with the top teams. We’re looking forward to getting into conference and see where we can go from there.”
Pitting two evenly matched teams, the game played at a fast pace. Despite possession being split evenly, the Patriots (3-0) never yielded a true goal scoring threat on defense.
“We did well on possession the whole tournament,” Tovar said. “After we scored, we didn’t control the ball as well and kind of fell apart a bit. That’s something we need to work on.”
With several players returning from last season’s 15-win team, junior defender Isaac Ruiz said the Patriots expect success, but they can’t be satisfied after a tournament title.
“We need to keep working hard. This is just the beginning,” he said. “Winning is what we expect, but we have to look at bigger goals down the road.”
Still, Truman's season couldn’t have started off any sweeter.
“It’s amazing to win this tournament,” Martinez said. “For me, beginning in the program as a junior varsity player, starting on varsity last year, and then getting moved up to captain, it’s a great feeling to lead this team.”
GRAIN VALLEY 4, RAYTOWN SOUTH 1: Grain Valley junior Nathan Racz said he felt good heading into Thursday’s third-place game.
It certainly showed in the first half.
Racz recorded a hat trick in the first 40 minutes, clinically finishing three through balls from Alex Theissen to lead the Eagles to a 3-1 halftime lead and an eventual 4-1 win over Raytown South in the third-place game.
“After not playing as well in the last two games and trying to get my touch down, it feels good to finally get some goals in,” said Racz, noting it was his first career hat trick.
Thiessen scored early in the second half with a solid one-touch flick over the Cardinals goalie after running onto a high bouncing ball in South’s box for Grain Valley’s final goal.
The Eagles (2-1) dominated possession and the final score could have been more lopsided after some close misses in the second half.
“It was good to respond as (Tuesday’s loss to Truman in penalty kicks) was a tough game for us,” Grain Valley coach Tyler Nichol said. “I thought we played well. I thought we could have been a little more clinical on our touches in the second half. When the goalkeeper comes out we have to be a little better with that, but we were solid overall.”