PUMPKIN CENTER — Freshman North Lincoln forward Justin Gannaway broke a 1-1 tie between the Knights and the Concord Spiders with a goal in the final moments of stoppage time in Tuesday’s nonconference match for a 2-1 win.
North Lincoln sophomore Mitchel Brown gained possession of the ball just outside of the Concord goal box as time expired, jostled with the goalkeeper on the ground for the ball and chipped a pass to Gannaway, who was positioned in front of the goal to bury the game-winning shot.
The Knights (2-0) took a 1-0 lead with six minutes left in the first half when senior Marcus Carter settled the ball just outside of the 18-yard line and sent a shot on the ground into the corner of the net, past the outstretched hands of the Concord goalkeeper.
Concord answered with a goal in the first minute of the second half to tie the game at 1-1. Omar Cisneros fielded a pass from Jam Tabares and took a shot, which was deflected off of a North Lincoln defender into the goal.
That goal appeared to mark a turning point in the match, and noticeably slowed North Lincoln’s pace. Just over 15 minutes later, a shoving match between North Lincoln senior Jacob Stegal and Concord’s Omar Vargas at midfield resulted in red cards for both players, but reinvigorated the North Lincoln offense.
“That was what it took,” North Lincoln head coach Tim Harris said. “I hate to see people get carded, but that turned the tide for us. We needed that energy boost to get us going. We came out in the second half flat. I told the team to keep it calm at halftime, but I think they went too calm.”
Concord had several opportunities to score throughout the game, but was constantly thwarted by center defender Clayton Gannaway, and goalkeeper Brian Lehman. This season marks Lehman’s first time as a fulltime keeper, but Harris said the two players have “really clicked” already.
Harris said Tuesday’s game would be good preparation for the Knights’ tough Southern Piedmont Conference schedule.
“They were a lot faster than anyone we’ve seen, but it’s going to get us ready for teams like Lincolnton,” he said. “I was really pleased with how we played; we fought hard.”
The Knights opened the season with a 5-2 win over Maiden on Monday. North Lincoln had goals from both Gannaways, Jonathan Ivanuic, Connor Coonana and Sam Lawing, with assists from Mikey Johnson, Stegal and Brown.