Boys soccer earns overtime win over Fannin County
The LCHS varsity boys soccer team got off to a 1-1 start in Region 7-AAA play when the Indians secured an overtime victory against the Fannin County Rebels before losing a heartbreaker in penalty kicks to the North Hall Trojans last week.
The Indians began the week with a thrilling win over Fannin County in the final minutes of overtime at the Burial Grounds at Cottrell Field on Tuesday, March 12.
The Indians and the Rebels couldn’t finish on their many scoring opportunities during regulation of the match, forcing the two squads to battle it out in a 15 minute overtime period. It appeared that the match would be heading to penalty kicks, but with less than two minutes remaining on the clock Lumpkin received a clutch goal from Gage Benton to give the Indians a 1-0 advantage.
The goal came when Benton headed in a cross from Harrison Spivey that came into the box from the left side. The perfectly placed pass allowed Benton to head the ball past the Rebels’ keeper.
The Indians’ defense remained steadfast and refused to allow Fannin County to find the equalizer, allowing Lumpkin to eke past the Rebels by a final score of 1-0.
The overtime win gave the Indians a 1-0 start to Region 7-AAA play and improved their overall record to 2-5.
“The win was a good step forward for our team and gives us a leg up on what will be a series of very tough matches,” said LCHS head boys soccer coach Mark Wade. “I think our region is very well balanced and not much separates most of the teams.”
The victory was much needed for the Indians, who have struggled to finish around the net so far this season. Wade believes that the win reenergized his players, something that the team will need as it continues to battle against conference opponents in the upcoming weeks.
“Winning very late like that and having most of the match be a very back and forth battle creates great excitement for the guys,” Wade said. “The energy level at practice obviously goes up, which you hope translates to the next match. We have a opportunity to open up a real lead on the race for the playoffs if we can win our next match.”
TROUBLE WITH THE TROJANS
The Indians looked to secure their second region win of the season when they hosted the North Hall Trojans at the Burial Grounds on Friday, March 15, for a conference matchup.
With goals hard to come by this season, the Indians received a huge goal from Spivey in the opening minutes of the match to take an early 1-0 lead over North Hall. Spivey sent a rocket shot from the top of the box that went through two Trojan defenders and North Hall’s diving keeper.
The early goal put momentum on the Indians’ side and for the remainder of the first half Lumpkin dominated the possession and mercilessly attacked the North Hall defense looking for another score.
Unfortunately for the Indians, North Hall’s defense was able to thwart Lumpkin’s scoring opportunities for the rest of the half to trail 1-0 at halftime.
Lumpkin continued to look strong in the second half, despite North Hall picking up the pace offensively. The Indians’ defense consistently halted every scoring chance that the Trojans set up for themselves.
However, with time winding down, the Indians suffered a blow when center defensive back Joe Froggatt was issued a yellow card for a slide tackle and was forced to the sidelines. Up to that point Froggatt and Esteban Ramirez had anchored the Lumpkin defense and halted all North Hall’s scoring opportunities.
Minutes after Froggatt had to leave the pitch the Trojans were awarded a corner kick. The absence of Froggatt in the middle of the Lumpkin defense was glaring when the corner kick bounced around the box, wasn’t cleared by Lumpkin defenders and was redirected into the net by a North Hall player. The goal evened the score at 1-1 with 7:23 left on the clock.
Neither team was able to get the upper hand in the final minutes of regulation and the two squads were forced to go to overtime, the second overtime match of the week for the Indians.
The overtime period proved to be a stalemate between the two clubs, with neither team able to get the go-ahead goal.
With the score still tied 1-1 after the overtime period, the match would be decided by penalty kicks.
LCHS keeper Efrain Contreras almost stopped the first penalty kick from North Hall. Contreras guessed the right direction and dove for the ball, but it was able to just get under Contreras’ side and squirted into the net to put the Trojans up 1-0. The next Trojan penalty kicker drove the ball into the left side of the net to put North Hall up 2-0.
After the Trojans made their first two penalty kicks, the Indians got their first opportunities. Ramirez buried his shot into the bottom left corner and Jay Rogers blasted a shot into the right side of the net to even the score at 2-2.
The Trojans made their next three penalty kicks and Spivey and Dylan Bodney both made their kicks for Lumpkin, leaving the fate of the Indians up to the foot of Jordan Buice.
With North Hall up 5-4, Buice stepped to the penalty line and placed the ball on the ground. Buice, who won a match for the Indians in penalty kicks earlier this season, appeared calm and collected as he ran forward and booted the ball. Unfortunately for Buice, the North Hall keeper guessed correctly and was able to knock Buice’s shot clear of the net.
The save sealed the victory for North Hall and dropped the Indians’ overall record to 2-6 and their region record to 1-1.
“It was a heartbreaking loss,” Wade said. “But, I’m proud of how far we’ve come. What we want is still in front of us. We’ll get back to work on Monday.”
At press time, the LCHS varsity boys soccer team was set to travel to Greater Atlanta Christian to square off with the Spartans in a Region 7-AAA matchup on Tuesday, March 19. No official results were available.
The Indians will look to pick up another region victory when they travel to Cherokee Bluff to battle it out with the Bears this Friday, March 22. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.