FARMINGTON – The hometown standout had his way on Saturday while helping the Mineral Area men’s soccer program continue a dazzling start to its second season.
Farmington graduate Bryce Sancegraw netted his second hat trick for the Cardinals with three first-half goals in a disjointed 3-0 shutout over East Central at Engler Park.
Ryan Garner stopped all nine shots he faced, and Jake Sauerbrunn added an assist for Mineral Area (3-1-1, 2-0-1) in a contest interrupted by 36 combined fouls and 10 total cards.
The Cardinals struggled to find their leading scorer during their previous outing against Jefferson, but ran a faster counter attack with crisp lead passes against the Region 16 rival Falcons.
Sancegraw received two accurate chips on the run from Rory Kelly along the left sideline, but actually opened the scoring by simply reacting first to a broken scramble in the box.
Mineral Area generated two previous threats when solid pressure created free kicks, but East Central keeper Toby Lydon-Gardiner made two excellent saves to deny midfielder Joe Maunsell.
Another restart by Maunsell found the foot of James Nuku, whose initial pass to the middle was blocked out to teammate Oliver Green about 20 yards from the net.
Lydon-Gardiner knocked that drive down while falling to his right, but could not find the nearby rebound before Sancegraw raced in and poked the ball past him during the ninth minute.
East Central (2-2-1, 2-1-0) looked to draw even several times in a frantic ensuing sequence, but Garner was in position to save two dangerous headers by Stephen Akot with a dive and leap.
Kelly intercepted a subsequent corner and quickly found Green streaking ahead before Falcons defender Chris Tadeo stole possession in a solid 1-on-1 effort.
But the Cardinals struck again in the 15th minute to lead 2-0. Sauerbrunn found Sancegraw with space near the middle of the field for a quick shot past Lydon-Gardiner.
The head referee stopped the action often to admonish players for holding or arguing calls, and handed out four yellow cards to Maunsell, Kevin Padilla, Victor Herion and Kelly of MAC prior to halftime.
The caution tally shifted drastically after intermission, as frustration set in for the Falcons in their failed attempts to reduce a 3-0 deficit.
Jack Ridley and Santiago Sanchez were booked for sliding tackles from behind after losing possession to Maunsell and midfield substitute Patrick Sikes in the second half.
Oliver Couts was shown the red card in the 88th minute for profanity in objection to a questionable foul call as an opposing player appeared to trip over his own feet.
Sancegraw notched his third goal of the game and seventh of the season with patience by settling a second ball and making two soft touches before firing a 20-yard shot inside the left post after Kelly created the original chance on a left-side run.
Mineral Area nearly converted again on connecting passes from Kelly to Sancegraw to Green in the 47th minute, then utilized its bench liberally after intermission while still locking down defensively.
Juan Suarez blocked two sideline passes and won the second challenge cleanly at the sideline, and Cameron Baker replaced Garner for the final nine minutes of a combined shutout.
The Cardinals will face NJCAA Division I foe Crowder for the first time on Saturday.
Miguel Gonzalez had a team-high three shots on goal, and Lydon-Gardiner made five saves for East Central, who had begun region play with victories over St. Louis and St. Charles.