It was senior Tristan “The Shark” Finn’s hat trick plus one that led the Ripley-Union-Lewis-Huntington Blue Jays to a 6-4 victory against the Fayetteville-Perry Rockets in the exciting Oct. 8 non-league battle. Like a shark attacking its prey, Finn struck hard and fast as the Jays rallied from an early 2-0 deficit to take a 4-2 lead and went on to score two goals in the final two minutes to snap what was a 4-4 tie.
The Jays rose to an 8-5 overall record on the season with Monday’s win at Fayetteville-Perry High School.
“It was a little more exciting than I would have liked,” Ripley head soccer coach, Kevin Poe, said of Monday’s non-league contest. “It wasn’t our best performance, but we definitely showed a lot of heart. We were asleep for the first 15 minutes and fell behind, but we had the heart to come back and tie it up. We came out and played more like us to begin the second half. We lapsed and they tied it up later in the second half, but we showed a lot of heart to come back from those two (Fayetteville) goals and get the win.”
“It wasn’t a super tactical performance for us, but I’m very proud of the heart they put into it,” Poe added.
The Rockets also put forth a valiant effort in Monday’s non-league contest, refusing to back down from the skilled Ripley squad.
The Rockets got off to an excellent start with sophomore Wyatt Meeker scoring the first two goals of the evening with assists coming from sophomores William Cornett and Matthew Johnson to leave the Jays trailing 2-0.
Just under 11 minutes into the game, Ripley’s senior goalkeeper Jaki Royal saved a shot by Johnson to prevent the Rockets from expanding their lead to three goals. On the other end of the field, it was Fayetteville’s junior goalkeeper Colton Bone coming through with some excellent saves to keep the Jays scoreless for more than 20 minutes. But the Jays finally picked up the pace, and it was Ripley junior Nigel Royal firing for a goal with 19:47 to go in the first half to cut the Rocket lead to 2-1.
The Jays continued to fire away, but they would fail to get a shot past Bone until Finn’s kicked in his first goal of the evening with 26.3 seconds to go in the first half to tie the game at two.
Just over two minutes into the second half, Finn fired for his second goal of the game to put the Jays on top 3-2.
Finn’s second goal came with 33:50 to go in the second half, expanding the Ripley lead to 4-2.
The Rockets rallied midway through the second half, and it was an assist by Johnson for a goal by Wyatt Meeker that sliced the Ripley lead to 4-3 with just over 14 minutes remaining.
It was a goal by Fayetteville junior Kyle Castle off an assist by Cornett that tied the game at four with 11:54 left on the clock.
Things became heated as the two teams battled for the lead late in the second half. A shot by Johnson with 7:45 to go was saved by Jaki Royal, and the game remained tied until there was less than two minutes remaining. With 1:51 left on the clock, it was Finn scoring his fourth goal of the game to break the knot, putting the Jays on top 5-4.
The Jays’ final goal of the game came from Nigel Royal with only 17 seconds remaining, sealing a two-point victory for Ripley.
Wyatt Meeker scored three of the Rockets’ four goals to record a hat trick.
The Jays were scheduled to face the Eastern Warriors in Southern Hills Athletic Conference play on Oct. 11 before they head into Southwest District Division III Sectional Tournament play.
The Jays are the No. 13 seed for this year’s sectional tourney and will face No. 2 seed Cincinnati Country Day (8-3-2) on Monday, Oct. 15 in round one of sectional play. The winner of that round one contest moves on to face the No. 17 seed Felicity-Franklin Cardinals (1-11) on Oct. 18.