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Cardinal Newman seniors Connor Grassinger, Matthew Harrison, Renner Presnal, and Adam Trimmier have been part of the Cardinals’ varsity program since the eighth grade. They’ve won three state championships and would have been heavy favorites to win a fourth if not for the COVID-shortened season of 2020.
That corps of players along with fellow seniors Caleb Baxter, Danny Leon, and Somto Okoye, as well as junior Duncan Wilson, who is most likely leaving early to attend Clemson University, were honored in a ceremony before they began their quest for a third straight title with a 10-0 quarterfinal win over Laurence Manning on Tuesday, May 10.
“I’m just proud of them—the kids they are, the way they represented our school,” Cardinal Newman head coach Will Eudy said. “Just happy for them and glad to celebrate them.”
Eudy got a chance to experiment a bit and let some players have some fun against Laurence Manning, which may have been why it took five shots and about eight-and-half minutes to get that first goal, a right-footer from Grassinger from about 10 yards out.
“It was just a chance for them to get to do some stuff they don’t get to do,” Eudy said. “It’s kind of perspective because they sit back there, ‘Just cross it in and finish it; it’s easy,’ and they get up here and the first seven minutes they had chances to score they missed them. So a little perspective for them, but just want them to have a good time because they’ve been a really big part of our program, and this is a night to celebrate them.”
A minute later, Okoye punched in one from up close. Then Baxter converted a penalty kick in the 14th minute after a Laurence Manning handball in the box. It was his first goal as a Cardinal.
“He’s from Sumter and drives from Sumter every day,” Eudy said of Baxter. “We train at 6 in the morning and 6 at night, and it doesn’t matter; he’s always there, and so to see him get a goal or two tonight was good.”
Wilson hit a long groundball to the left corner to start the 20th minute, and then in the 27th minute he headed in a cross from Owen Thompson for a 5-0 lead.
Trimmier got in the scoring column a little less than two minutes later sending a pass from Topher Johnson into the net. And after three attempts, Presnal, a defender since eighth grade, scored his first career goal with a bouncer in the 37th minute to set the count at 7-0.
“Renner Presnal has been a phenomenal center back,” Eudy said. “He was supposed to play center-mid (today), but he started sliding in up front.”
Cardinal Newman added goals from Okoye, Diego Vazquez, and Brady Cote in the second half, and the mercy rule was applied ending the match around the 60th minute.
The Cardinals will host Heathwood Hall Thursday, May 11 in the semifinals. Should they win that one, they will have the opportunity to play for the school’s ninth state championship under Eudy’s leadership.
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