FARMINGTON – Already blessed with an abundance of scoring options, the Farmington boys soccer team decided to get one of its defenders more involved on Monday night.
Left back Max Reid netted two goals while finishing trailing runs through the middle, and the Knights executed sound one-touch passes deep in the offensive third to rout visiting Sikeston 10-1.
Senior Bryce Sancegraw achieved a hat trick just seconds before halftime, and tallied five times overall while adding two assists for Farmington (10-3), which outshot the Bulldogs 29-4.
The outcome all but assures a future No. 1 seed for the Class 3, District 1 tournament since the Knights have already posted lopsided wins over both North County and Cape Central.
Cole Gerstenberger and Tristan Stotler each produced one goal with three assists. Gatlin Roberts also scored, and winning keeper Chad Silvey made two saves.
Sancegraw buried a feed from Gerstenberger less than two minutes into the action, and the Knights would control possession and field position throughout much of the first half.
Sikeston keeper Clark Steward made two outstanding saves while diving to his right, and later denied a dangerous header off a corner near the post.
But the barrage continued from Farmington, and a 1-0 edge suddenly ballooned when Sancegraw and Roberts scored 23 seconds apart from nearly an identical spot within the 19th minute.
Steward looked skyward in helpless frustration after a low drive by Sancegraw – who received a lead ball from Reid – slipped through his hands and feet before trickling across the goal line.
Roberts had his jersey tugged from behind after taking a Sancegraw feed in stride, but powered through the pending foul to drill a 25-yarder for a 3-0 advantage.
Reid got his first goal of the season in the 37th minute. He made a diagonal cut into the box and tucked his shot inside the opposite post after Stotler beat his man and issued a drop pass.
Sikeston had its best chance to answer before halftime when Trenton Taylor sent a rolling cross into the box moments later, but Chase Gollaher disrupted and cleared to begin a Farmington counter.
After having an initial kick blocked, Sancegraw finished the next ball from Gerstenberger for his third of the game and a 5-0 cushion, beating the halftime whistle with five seconds to play.
The Bulldogs snapped the shutout bid less than six minutes into the second half on a pinpoint strike past Silvey by Alfonso Vera, who was sprung by an outlet pass from freshman Dylan Thornbrough.
But the Knights continued to attack, and had a 5-4 edge in corner opportunities. Sancegraw matched the Vera tally exactly one minute later after racing past the final back and sliding the ball past Steward.
Reid was awarded his second goal amid confusion in the Sikeston defense as his shot from point-blank range glanced off three players in close proximity and crossed the line to make it 7-1.
An innocent back heel touch and spin by Reid to create distance on his side of midfield ignited the next Farmington score during the 64th minute.
He sent a short pass to Roberts, who found a teammate breaking ahead. Gerstenberger beat the keeper with a subtle dribble left, and hit the vacated net while sliding hard toward the end line.
Gerstenberger laid on the turf and breathed a sigh of relief after a previous strike rattled the left post, and two other quality chances were handled by Steward. The goal was his 16th for the Knights.
Stotler dented the scoring column with 8:16 remaining, and Sancegraw notched his team-leading 22nd of the season just 28 seconds later on a run down the middle.
Steward compiled 11 saves in a contest that featured nine total fouls one offside call.
Matt King is the sports editor for the Daily Journal. Contact him at email@example.com