EA crushes Grace King to advance

Aanifa LeBlanc
East Ascension’s Justin Ruiz goes up for a header against Grace King’s Richard Mencia in the second half of the Spartans’ 7-1 Division I bi-district playoff victory Saturday night.

East Ascension scored early and often to push past Grace King 7-1 in a Division I bi-district playoff Saturday night at Spartan Stadium.

“This is the first time in a long time that we have had everybody healthy,” East Ascension head coach Reuben Ruiz said. “We were able to put everybody we had on the field tonight and didn’t have to hold anybody back.”

No. 11 seed East Ascension (19-6-2) advances to face No. 6 St. Paul’s?(19-4-1) Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. in Covington. Grace King finishes the season with an overall record of (15-7-3). The Spartans fell to Northshore in a first round upset last season, another team from the District 7-I.

“Most of them were here last year and we didn’t want a replay of what happened,” Ruiz said. “We emphasized that all week long. (St. Paul’s) comes from that same area and all those teams are tough soccer schools to play. We know we have our work cut out for us and we are going to come prepared.”

East Ascension got two goals each from Samir Martinez and Blake Parr and single goals from Justin Ruiz, Ahmad Gauthreaux and Edwin Morales.

“They have five different forwards and they know what they are doing,” Grace King head coach Raul Hernandez said. “They play really well and I hope that they keep on winning because they have a good team. They took advantage of the opportunities. We had some chances too but they scored them and we didn’t. That is the way it is.”

Martinez’s first goal came on a header less than five minutes into the game. Gauthreaux’s goal came from a through ball by Cesar Vallin to put East Ascension ahead 2-0 with 24 minutes left in the half.

Two minutes before half-time, Martinez connected off a rebound to put the Spartans ahead 3-0.

“At half-time we made sure they understood this game was not over,” Ruiz said. “We drew up a motto this week. “Men on a Mission.” That is what we are living by.”

Mohamed Hannel put Grace King on the board in the opening minutes of the second half but East Ascension quickly answered when Ruiz connected on a drop ball from Martinez and Parr drew Grace King goalie Daniel Zavala out five minutes later to extend the lead to 5-1.

“(Vallin) made a big difference in the game just having him back on the field,” Ruiz said. “Hasn’t been able to perform much for us. Being out since really the second district game.”

Jared Hill’s long drive off Kevin McDaniel’s throw in was wide right before Zavala batted out Ruiz’s free kick.

Spartan goal keeper Chad Leodler tipped Hannel’s breakaway before scooping up Ricardo Ramirez’s roller. Parr then hit the left corner off Hill’s header from Leodler’s punt with 2:33 left to play.

Morales drove through two defenders from the left corner and bounce a shot off a defender for the final goal with 1:18 left to play.

East Ascension's Edwin Morales defends Grace King's Eddy Choe Saturday night.