Grant scores as TCA blanks Lewis-Palmer in season opener

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Photo - TCA goalkeeper Ross Vlcek (right) defends the goal against Lewis-Palmer's Jon Merrell during the first half of a game at TCA on Thursday, August 25, 2016. TCA won the game 4-0. photo by Jerilee Bennett,The Gazette
TCA goalkeeper Ross Vlcek (right) defends the goal against Lewis-Palmer's Jon Merrell during the first half of a game at TCA on Thursday, August 25, 2016. TCA won the game 4-0. photo by Jerilee Bennett,The Gazette

The Classical Academy has lost the past three state championship games.

Don't count on a letdown in its quest to try again.

Titus Grant scored in his fourth straight season opener and the host Titans dominated every aspect of the game in a 4-0 win over Lewis-Palmer on Thursday night.

Jaden Borja, Jake Slater and Aaron Peck also scored for TCA, which won its 11th straight game at home. Ross Vlcek made two saves in net.

TCA coach Blake Galvin said he expects his team to only grow from here.

"I think our potential is much higher than what we showed," Galvin said. "I think we could've done a lot better than what we did. We did OK. It's the first game of the season."

Hayden MacPherson was spectacular in net and made 11 saves for the Rangers.

But Lewis-Palmer (0-1) lost its third straight season opener to TCA (1-0).

"They're always among the strongest in our area for sure," L-P coach Brian Barkey said. "It's good for both of us and that's why we schedule them every year. We need to know where we stand against the best."

Going up against a player like Grant is certainly a nice start.

The do-it-all senior, returning to the field after he was suspended for last year's 4A state title game with two yellow cards, swished the 83rd goal of his high school career in the 24th minute.

The one-time blast in the box extended his scoring streak to 20 games dating back to the Titans' 5-0 win over the Rangers in last year's opener.

"I think it's a little crazy but it's not all me, it's my teammates as well," said Grant, who had a league-high 29 goals and 14 assists before he sat out his team's 1-0 loss to Evergreen in the finals.

"I just do my best to do what I can, and my teammates find me. And they do their best to do their jobs. It's a team effort."

The Titans certainly had a cast of standouts Thursday.

Borja started things when he split a pair of defensemen and rolled a chance past MacPherson in the 4th minute.

Slater then doubled the lead with a spectacular goal in the 21st minute, spinning at the left corner of the box before hitting the top right of the net with a perfectly placed chance.

"We just had to take it one goal at a time," Slater said. "We're not really looking for the final result, we're looking for each goal at a time."

In the opening minutes, Jon Merrell nearly changed the makeup of the game for Lewis-Palmer.

Breaking from the defense, the first-year starter ripped a shot that hit the crossbar and went straight down. Vlcek, however, jumped on it immediately to keep the game scoreless.

"When I hit it, I thought it was going in but when it hit the crossbar I knew it wasn't," Merrell said.

"It definitely would've been a game-changer if it had gone."