The Raiders (11-5-1) scored its first two goals in the first half, then stepped it up a notch with five more in the final 40 minutes. They advanced into a second-round home with county rival Kennesaw Mountain on Tuesday.
“It was a little different game than I thought it would be,” Walton coach Bruce Wade said. “I thought it would be a little tighter. But, once the guys got on a roll, scoring goals, we were tough to stop.
Walton got its first goal with 26:14 remaining in the first half, when Douglas Miller scored from close range off of the Northview’s goalkeeper’s deflection of a previous scoring attempt.
The Raiders then increased their lead to 2-0 when Jad Elkhalil scored on a breakaway with 9:53 left in the first half. Elkhalil nearly added to the lead soon after, but his shot about 4 minutes later hit the crossbar.
Walton goalkeeper Alex McCauley held off a Northview surge at the beginning of the second half, continuing to maintain the Raiders’ shutout. McCauley saved an attempt by Peyton Ericson with 37:20 remaining in the game, not long before adding stops on Hanz Wien and another shot by Ericson.
Elkhalil again nearly added to Walton’s lead, but his header off of a pass from Zach Busman hit the crossbar with 35:20 left.
However, the Raiders were finally able to connect again with 27:22 left, when UCLA signee Holden Fender blasted a shot into the goal from close range to make it 3-0.
Fender got his second goal of the game a little later in the second half, scoring on an assist from Busman with 19:47 left to increase Walton’s advantage to 5-0.
Fender just missed a chance to achieve a hat trick when an apparent goal with 17:40 was disallowed on an offsides call. However, Christian Lucas took a pass from Grant Cooksey in the air and booted the ball in the goal with 16:01 left to give the Raiders a 6-0 lead.
Landry Shaffer’s goal with 1:23 left in the game gave Walton its final margin of victory, though Shaffer nearly increased the Raiders’ lead even more in the final minute of the game when his shot hit the crossbar with 40 seconds left.
“It was a little too casual in the first half,” Wade said. “I think the boys felt we had some success and didn’t really push hard. In the second half, 2-0 is a dangerous lead at times, and so they pushed a little bit harder to get the ball in the net, and that’s what we did.”
While Wade was pleased with his team’s performance, he added that there is still room for improvement.
“The timing of our runs and the quality of our balls still have to improve,” Wade said. “Too many times, we’re giving away easy balls that shouldn’t be given away, so we will work on that in training.”
Now, Wade and his Raiders will look ahead to an all-Cobb matchup against Kennesaw Mountain, a 1-0 winner over Benedictine in its first-round game Tuesday.
“They are very solid team,” Wade said of the Mustangs. “They have some very nice players. It will be a good matchup. It will be like playing one of the teams from our region.”