Nation Ford’s Andrys Corrales takes on off the head as he moves down field against Gaffney defenders. Photos by Rob Upton

Junior striker Adrian Garthaus scored a first-half hat-trick in the space of just 24 minutes to lead Nation Ford boys’ soccer team to a comfortable 6-1 home win over Gaffney Tuesday night.

The Falcons, now 7-5-1, 1-0 Region 3-5A, cruised to victory in their first region match of the year, scoring five goals in the opening half-hour of action.

Garthaus said after the game that he was motivated to get his team off to a hot start in region play. He said he trusts his teammates and feels they can be the heavy-hitters in the region.

“We’ve got a solid team this year,” he said. “I believe in the team 100 percent, and after seeing this game, I believe we can win this region.”

And with important region matchups against reigning region champs Clover and last year’s runners-up Fort Mill coming up soon, the Falcons will have a chance to see how strong they can be against the cream of the crop in Region 3-5A.

Nation Ford finished in third place in the region last year, narrowly missing out on the postseason. Since then, the Falcons have reloaded and are looking to create some noise.

Nation Ford led after just four minutes through a Gaffney own goal. Garthaus then opened his account with a deft volley from the top of the penalty box in the 15th minute to double the lead.

The junior picked up his second goal of the night five minutes later when his hard left-footed shot from long-range beat the Indians’ keeper at his near post to make it 3-0.

And Garthaus sealed the hat-trick in the 24th minute when he cut into the penalty box from the right wing and unleashed a shot that was destined for the net.

Falcons’ head coach Kenny Halas said he was satisfied with how his team controlled the tempo and possession throughout the game. He said that control led to clean goal-scoring opportunities.

“That’s what we’ve been training to do,” he said. “Controlling the way we want to go and getting there.”

Senior Noah Lloyd secured a goal of his own in the 25th minute to give the Falcons a 5-0 lead within the opening half-hour.

The Indians had their first real shot on goal in the 30th minute. Sophomore Adam Richards took full advantage of the free kick from about 30-yards out, curling a delightful left-footed shot past the Nation Ford keeper to cut the lead to 5-1.

Sophomore Tripp Smith added the game’s final goal just four minutes into the second half.

“We’ve got a lot of depth,” Garthaus said. “We rely on our bench. They came on and kept the same energy. I trust my brothers, everyone trusts everyone else, and we play as a team.”

Nation Ford has two challenging region matches ahead of itself. The Falcons next host reigning region champions Clover March 18 before traveling to play local rival Fort Mill March 22.

The Falcons’ Noah Lloyd nails his second goal of the game passed the Gaffney keeper.