MANSFIELD — Chase Lankford netted three goals and added two assists as Mansfield gave a boost to its playoff chances Tuesday night with a dominating 5-1 home win over Grand Prairie at Newsom Stadium.
“We’ve struggled trying to score goals all year long, so five goals against a quality team, that’s a plus for us,” Mansfield coach John Fazekas said. “Now we know we can do it.”
Lankford opened the scoring in the 12th minute. An awkward Gophers clearance left the ball bouncing around inside their penalty area, and with the goalkeeper stranded, the sophomore calmly slotted it into the left side of the goal for the 1-0 Tigers lead.
Lankford then doubled the Tigers’ lead six minutes later. He latched on to a cross from the right flank, and though he miss-hit the shot, it fooled the keeper and bounced into the back right corner of the net.
Lankford said the Tigers’ offensive output does a lot for their overall confidence going into District 7-5A’s final two games.
“It helps us a tremendous amount,” he said. “We’ve been right there all year and not been able to finish, and now that we’ve got some goals in the back of the net, I think we’ll continue to score.”
Grand Prairie (11-7-3, 6-4-2 in 7-5A) managed to pull one back in the 48th minute, when Eric Saucedo was able to hold off a defender and slide a pass across the mouth of the goal, where Edgar Guzman blasted it home from short range.
The momentum seemed to shift and play was primarily in the Mansfield (9-10-2, 5-4-1) end, but the Tigers again took control in the 55th minute. Lankford played in a corner kick and Cameron Peterson was able to rise above his marker for a free header inside the 6-yard box, giving Mansfield a 3-1 lead.
Three minutes later, Nathan McBride had a header just pushed wide by Gophers keeper Julio Galindo. On the ensuing Lankford corner kick, the Grand Prairie defense found itself scrambling and a clearance off the line hit Galindo in the back and rolled across the line for an own goal credited to Lankford.
McBride closed the scoring in the 70th minute when Lankford fed him a through-ball down the left side of the area, and McBride fired a tight-angle shot across goal and into the far-side netting.
“Our backs are to the wall,” Fazekas said. “The last three games are so crucial to us, we’ve got to get points, we’ve got to get wins and the kids realize that. They finally came out and played aggressive from the start.”
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