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Knights score seven to reach district final

FARMINGTON — A confident Farmington soccer team penetrated a suspect Perryville defense with relative ease on Tuesday night, earning a repeated barrage of point-blank scoring chances against Pirates keeper Cody Call.

Farmington rarely misfired while moving within one step of the program’s first Class 2, District 1 title with a 7-1 semifinal victory at Haile Memorial Stadium, as five different players found the back of the net.

Determined runs and pinpoint passing helped the top-seeded Knights erupt with four goals during the opening 25 minutes of action, including a pair from junior Zach Thomas occurring four minutes apart.

Farmington (21-1) will face perennial state power Notre Dame Thursday at 6 p.m. for the crown. The second-seeded Bulldogs defeated Hillsboro 2-1 on penalty kicks to prolong their season.

Junior standout Pete Grindel netted his first of two tallies when sophomore Cory Herzog sent a long flick toward the box in the fifth minute, then added his 43rd of the year in the 74th.

Farmington earned four corner kicks before the intermission, and surged ahead 2-0 without letting a second ball touch the turf. Thomas headed the ball across the line following a redirection from Shane Sweeney.

Call, who made 10 stops overall, showed quick reflexes in the 18th minute with a saving punch after Thomas led Alex Slinkard with an excellent diagonal ball, but Thomas alertly pounced on the rebound.

Senior Trevor Ratliff later capitalized on a Perryville giveaway by tucking a low drive inside the far post, and the four-goal cushion was more than enough for the Knights.

Winning keeper John Schnurbusch collected five saves for Farmington, but lost the shutout bid at the 48:00 mark when Pirates sophomore Bryce Weibrecht finished a right-side dribble with an unassisted goal.

Braden LaHay answered two minutes later on a short cross from Grindel for a 5-1 advantage, and Connor Eaton cleaned up Sam Thompson’s blocked shot from close range during the 61st.

Grindel turned a sideline throw from LaHay into a streaking break-away to cap the scoring following a delayed reaction by the Pirates (9-11).

The Knights managed 23 total shots despite the absence of second-leading scorer Ted Hitson, who continues to heal from a collarbone injury.

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