J.J. Malone Leads Blue Ridge Soccer to 3-2 Comeback Win over Central Catholic

FARMER CITY, Ill. -- J.J. Malone's sixth hat trick of the season performed a little magic, transforming a sure defeat into a victory for the Knights.

With the Knights down 2-0 at halftime and dealing with the absences of Bryant Lagle, Jon Jones and Josh McQuaid, Malone (No. 5 pictured below as he is congratulated for the go-ahead goal) scored all three of his goals in the second half to lead Blue Ridge to a non-conference victory over the Saints.

"We pulled it out," Blue Ridge coach Marty Price said. "But when we play against these tougher teams, we need to find out how to play better in the first half."

Malone's first goal was unassisted. From the right side of the net, he fired a shot that went in on the upper-left corner. His second goal, which tied the match at 2-2, was scored as he kicked the ball off the left goal post and into the net; Lane Arteman was credited with the assist on that goal.

The go-ahead goal was scored when Malone headed a Travys Nichols lob kick into a wide-open net. Nichols (pictured below) recorded the assist on the goal.

Central Catholic's two first-half goals were scored by Joe Bevilacque and Arturo Magallanes. Orvic Magallanes was credited with the assist on Bevilacque's score while Arturo Magallanes' goal was unassisted.

Blue Ridge had many chances to get on the scoreboard in the first half as well. With the Knights trailing 1-0, Ian Riggs had a free kick attempt that was too high over the net.

With the Knights and Saints in a scoreless tie, Malone passed the ball to Conner Builta (pictured below), who had a nice shot at the net from the center of the net. However, Builta's shot sailed wide right.

In the second half prior to Malone's first goal, he had a shot that was saved by Saints goalkeeper Coal Mikesell, who dived to his right to thwart the shot.

Shortly afterwards, Malone had a breakaway chance via Central Catholic turnover. However, Mikesell moved forward to deny Malone.

Overall, Blue Ridge out-shot the Saints 25-8. Mikesell finished the match with 13 saves while the Knights' Josh Plunk recorded three saves.

With the win, Blue Ridge improves its record to 9-1. The Knights' next contest will be in Normal on Tuesday, where they will kick off against Calvary Baptist at 4:30 p.m.

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