LINCOLNTON — The Lincolnton Wolves varsity soccer team played two 40-minute halves against the Shelby Golden Lions on Monday to a 0-0 tie.
Though not typical in regular-season or nonconference games, the teams agreed beforehand to play at least two 10-minute overtime periods if the game ended in a tie. Shelby struck, with just over two minutes left in the first overtime period, on a solo goal by Sam Goforth from outside the box to take a 1-0 victory.
Several Lincolnton players suffered injuries throughout the game, and head coach Ian Leith said he was proud of his substitutes’ performance.
“They’re going to have to step up, and this game showed that they can,” he said. “We were missing three of our top players through pretty much the whole game, and we hung with them. If we can play with that team with three of our top five guys out, that’s a good thing. The score was 1-0, it could have gone either way. It just didn’t go our way.”
Shelby, traditionally a men’s soccer powerhouse, finished last year with a 3-2 loss to Salisbury, the eventual state champion, in the 2A West regional championship round of the playoffs.
The Wolves threatened several times in the first half, with senior forward Dennis Rodriguez barely missing a shot wide after beating two Shelby defenders at the 28:00 mark for Lincolnton’s best chance in the first 40 minutes of play.
“They might have out-possessed us in the first half, but I think we outplayed them in the second half,” Leith said. “We didn’t have enough shots on goal that we were wanting, but they didn’t have great opportunities either.”
Lincolnton nearly scored in the final minutes of the second half. Juan Abonza’s header on a Marco Nino corner kick was batted away by the Shelby goalkeeper with 7:30 left in regulation time.
Leith said he believed that simulating a playoff situation with extra time was a positive for his team, though he would have liked to have his entire starting roster healthy.
“I figured I’d have at least two of those guys who got hurt in this game playing with us,” he said. “If I could do it again, knowing those guys would be out, I would’ve said we should just leave it at a tie.”