Coming off back-to-back wins, Grand Rapids FC hosted Toledo Villa on Wednesday evening looking to extend its first win streak of the season. After a hard-fought first half resulted in a 1-0 lead for the home side, the Boys in Blue netted five goals in the second half to claim a 6-0 win.
The match started slow with neither team tallying a shot on goal until the 22nd minute, when Toledo Villa had a shot that was saved by GRFC keeper Tor Erik Larsen.
After some chippy play and as many yellow cards as shots on goal, the Boys in Blue earned a breakthrough as Farai Mutatu was taken down in the box and GRFC awarded a penalty kick. Just as he has all season long, Matty Cornish stepped up to the spot equal to the task and blasted the penalty kick into the top left corner to give Grand Rapids a 1-0 lead which it took into halftime.
While Mutatu didn’t reap the rewards of his hard play in the first half, he created a few more chances in the second half – and capitalized.
Less than five minutes into the second half, Mutatu had a solo counter attack that left him one-on-one with a defender down the left flank. Cutting in on his right, Mutatu created enough space to unleash a shot that slotted into the bottom left corner for a 2-0 GRFC lead.
Mutatu continued his impressive offensive display in the 57th minute. A long ball was played from the GRFC backline over the Toledo defense which left Mutatu in on goal. Taking two touches to settle the ball, Mutatu shot the ball underneath the onrushing keeper to score his second of the match.
After a pair of Toledo shots tested the GRFC defense, Mutatu claimed his hat trick in the 71st minute. A run by Caden Jackman up the right side of the field saw a number of opportunities to cross the ball. Holding on to the ball until he hit the end line, Jackman cut the ball back to Mutatu who had held up his run just above the six yard box, and Mutatu calmly picked an opening in the goal for his third which put GRFC ahead 4-0.
Even after three goals, Mutatu’s night was not over. Continuing to display his versatility, Mutatu scored his fourth goal on a blast from almost 30 yards out as his shot beat the Toledo keeper to the keeper’s right for a 5-0 lead to the Boys in Blue.
GRFC added one more goal in the final minute of regulation. Substitute Max Keenan scored from the top of the box when his shot deflected off a Toledo defender, wrong-footing the keeper to put a stamp on the 6-0 Grand Rapids victory.
“We just said at halftime when we have spells of possession, at the end of all that we need to have a final product,” said head coach Stu Collins, “and the team delivered in the second half, Farai specifically.”
“We changed the formation a little bit and that gave me the freedom to be aggressive,” said Mutatu. “This is a good win for us, especially at this time in the season. Come playoff time you want to pick things up at the right time, and right now we’re right there, contending. We have to control what we can control and finish these games out.”
With three matches remaining, GRFC sits in fourth place in the Great Lakes Division. The top three teams in the Division will earn a spot in the playoffs. The Boys in Blue will travel to Toledo for a match against Toledo Villa on Friday, July 2. The match is scheduled for a 6:00pm kickoff.