LINCOLNTON â€” It was a night of firsts for the Lincolnton Lady Wolves as they pulled off an initial season win during frigid weather Monday in Wolf territory. The team topped the Hunter Huss Lady Huskies 3-1 in non-conference play, leaving the Gaston County team still winless following their third season match.
Lady Wolvesâ€™ head coach Ian Leith praised his defense for their strong, aggressive play throughout the night, despite lack of communication and two field mistakes, he said. He noted that if his team could just â€œhold it to thatâ€ and make no more than a couple of errors per match, the Lady Wolves would see a successful season.
â€œWe played well and executed our chances,â€ Leith said.
Senior forward Larissa Bonilla, who gained the attention of fans and players alike with her solid hat trick, proved to be the Lady Wolvesâ€™ game MVP.
Even with three goals under her belt, Bonilla remained humble and gave credit for the victory to her fellow teammates.
â€œWe played together as a team and realized we could pull out a win,â€ she said.
Although the Lady Huskies were the first to move the ball during the gameâ€™s opening seconds, it was the Lady Wolves who first showed aggression at the goal as a player collided with the opponentâ€™s goalkeeper in a quick attempt to score. It was Bonilla who put Lincolnton on the scoreboard at the 11-minute mark after stopping her opponentâ€™s goal kick and shooting the ball hard into the left side of the goal.
The Gaston County team came close to tying up the match after shooting a high corner kick in front of the Lincolnton net. However, the Lady Wolves were unwilling to yield control, and a defender quickly headed the ball out of the mouth of the goal.
Not too long after scoring her teamâ€™s first goal, Bonilla again lit up the scoreboard at the 15-minute mark. Her fast break down field ended with a quick fake around the Lady Huskiesâ€™ goalkeeper and a second team goal.
With 10 minutes left to play, the Lady Huskies attempted to tap into good fortune during a free kick at the 18-yard line but again proved unsuccessful with an open shot on goal.
In the halfâ€™s final minutes, the Lady Wolves cheered a third goal for both Bonilla and the team, earning them a first-half shutout against Huss.
Leith pointed out his teamâ€™s top play and skill set during the first half.
â€œWe were definitely the best team on the field during the first 20 minutes,â€ he said.
In the second half the Lady Huskies finally gained a goal around the 8-minute mark, scoring off an accidental handball by Lady Wolvesâ€™ goalkeeper, senior Melissa Rustemov.
Neither team was inconspicuous about trying to gain a first season win as each squad dominated their nets throughout the half.
Following their first and only goal of the night, the Lady Huskies pounded the Lady Wolvesâ€™ goal at times, including free kicks at the nine-minute mark, which sailed over the right goal post, and 25-minute minute mark, in which the ball met with an opposing defender and was kicked up field.
The match stalled for several minutes around the 27-minute mark as a Lady Wolvesâ€™ player fell to the ground, suffering a slight injury. Moments after play resumed, the Lady Huskies produced a high shot across the mouth of the goal. Again, the ball met with much aggression from the Lady Wolvesâ€™ defense.
During the gameâ€™s final minutes, Lincolnton had additional chances to increase the score.
Bonilla shot back-to-back corners, placing the ball directly in front of the goal, but no shots were successful.
As the scoreboard counted down, the match unveiled play similar to that of the nightâ€™s opening field performance as a Lady Wolvesâ€™ forward again collided with the opponentâ€™s goalkeeper.
The incident offered the gameâ€™s underdogs a free kick and final opportunity for a goal, but Lady Wolvesâ€™ defenders made sure to deflect the shot.
In lieu of freezing temperatures, Lincolnton fans made sure to applaud proudly and loudly for the home teamâ€™s victorious night.