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Lady Rebels fall to LN Charter in SPC play

West Lincoln junior midfielder Shelby Barkley moves the ball upfield against the Lady Knights on Wednesday.

W. Lincoln falls to 1-2 after 5-0 conference shutout

JENNA-LEY HARRISON
Staff Writer

VALE — The Lake Norman Charter Lady Knights gained a 5-0 shutout Wednesday evening against a conference opponent in the West Lincoln Lady Rebels.
It was the fifth season win for the Huntersville team, who’s currently undefeated in the Southern Piedmont 1A/2A Conference and ranked eighth among 1A schools in the state, according to eurosportsscoreboard.com. The two teams are set to meet again late next month.
Lady Rebels’ head coach Tom Riley felt that his squad displayed notable play despite the large score margin. He also pointed out two ways in which his team needs to show improvement.
“We need to cut off the other teams’ runs a little better and their passing lanes,” he said.
The Lady Knights seemed to keep a tight rein on the ball during both halves, relentlessly shooting on their opponent’s goal.
Lady Rebels’ goalkeeper, senior Meredith Byers, was forced to stop shots within seconds after the Lady Knights started the first half with possession of the ball.
Freshmen Erin Iknayan along with freshman and sophomore teammates, Madeline Iknayan and Riley Kane, all attempted goals for the Lady Knights in the match’s opening minutes, but it was Kane who first put her team on the scoreboard at the 10-minute mark.
Not long after, the Lady Rebels were given a free kick at midfield. Senior Katie Childers sent the shot high over the field and into the goalkeeper’s arms, but it was only minutes later that the Lady Knights again pounded the home team’s goal from the 18-yard line.
At the 21-minute mark, Lady Knights’ junior Leanne Smithers, obtained the team’s second match goal.
The Lady Rebels continued to scramble among their opponent’s organized passing and skillful fakes that appeared second nature to each player. Another West Lincoln free kick at the 24-minute mark was but a moment of glory for the Lady Rebels as Childers’ forceful shot met with an opponent’s head, shortly before sailing back up the field.
The Lady Knights goalkeeper saw action at the 34-minute mark with Childers aggressive attack on goal. The rare opportunity for the Lady Rebels proved close but unsuccessful in the end.
The half came to a close with Byers’ notable save for the Lady Rebels in the final two minutes. Her dive to catch a shot proved to be a match highlight and one of Byers more than 20 saves throughout the evening.
In the second half’s opening minutes, Byers crashed to the ground to successfully save another Lady Knights’ attempt on goal, but by minute three and four, the out-of-county team secured their third and fourth goals of the game and doubled their lead over the Lady Rebels. Smithers along with junior Caroline Sanchez each secured a shot for the Lady Knights.
Childers continued to stay aggressive and fight for a West Lincoln goal, attempting a shot at the 8-minute mark that landed in the goalkeeper’s hands.
At the 14-minute mark, referees blew the whistle for an offside call on the Lady Knights.
West Lincoln’s defense continued to receive the brunt of the Lady Knights’ hard-hitting offensive end, but senior defender Conner Sigmon proved her small stature was tough enough to battle against her opponent, preventing more shots.
The Lady Rebels were again given a free kick at the 30-minute mark but were still unable to light up their side of the scoreboard.
The Lady Knights gained their fifth and final goal less than a minute later with a shot from freshman Julia Johnson.
While Riley believed that every team was going to be a “tough competitor” this season, he had no doubt that Lake Norman Charter would be one of the top teams vying for this year’s conference title.
Lady Knights’ head coach Justin Valenti said he hopes his team will at least finish among the conference’s top three. “We believe we have the talent to get there,” he said.
In addition, he said he used the game as an opportunity to give all his players time on the field and to determine what various options his skilled squad can utilize in future conference matchups.
Valenti said his two season goals are to secure victories and travel to the state playoffs.
“If we can get to the state final, that would be our highest aspiration this year,” he said. “We take one game at a time and try not to look too far ahead of ourselves.”
Lake Norman Charter will travel to Lincolnton Monday to battle it out against the Lady Wolves. Game time is set for 6 p.m. West Lincoln will travel to East Rutherford Monday for a 6:30 p.m. match against the Lady Cavaliers.

West Lincoln senior Katie Childers battles for the ball on Wednesday.

Images courtesy of Ray Gora / LTN

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