VALE — The West Lincoln Rebels made school history Wednesday after securing the men’s soccer program’s first-ever win against the East Lincoln Mustangs, topping the Denver team 2-1.
Despite East Lincoln’s field domination in past matches this season, it was their red and white western Lincoln County opponent who proved more aggressive and hungry for a victory this week.
West Lincoln head coach Tom Riley credited his team’s “patient” attacks and “good productive runs” toward their rival’s goal as factors in Wednesday’s feat.
“We maintained our composure, and the players supported each other,” he said.
The win is the Rebels third celebratory game this year and first conference match of the season. The team has suffered no losses and one tie at this point, walking away from their first season match against East Rutherford with a 0-0 draw.
The Mustangs possessed the ball at the game’s kickoff and sent a shot high across the mouth of their opponent’s goal early in the match.
However, the Rebels constant pressure on the East Lincoln defensive line produced the game’s first goal at the 9-minute mark.
Senior forward Ethan Bumgardner knocked the ball in high over the head of Mustangs’ senior goalkeeper Josh Vance.
The celebratory dance on the home team’s side subsided after tensions again rose in front of their defending net. East Lincoln freshman Brett Shanklin used his small stature and quick speed to jet down the field and cross the ball from the 18-yard line. Defenders on the Rebels side immediately blocked the threatening shot.
The Mustangs were again hopeful for a first goal at the 20-minute mark after teammates, Darin Salter, a senior, and junior Tyler Mispley worked together near the goal to produce a shot. Salter threw the ball in to Mispley, who in turn, launched it 20 yards out toward the Rebels goal. The ball sailed just right of the goalpost.
Even an East Lincoln corner kick three minutes later hit the post and bounced out of bounds.
It seemed luck was far from the Mustangs squad during the first half.
Going into the second half, the Rebels led the match 1-0, again securing a goal under 10 minutes of play.
Freshman defender Omar Calvillo obtained his team’s second point.
Immediately following the goal, the Mustangs exchanged goalkeepers, sending in junior Tony Cardwell to protect the evening’s seemingly unsecure net.
The visiting team had no lack of shots on goal during the second half, but no shot could slide past Rebels senior goalkeeper Chris Rios or break through the team’s defensive line.
Mispley and freshman teammate Blake Strupp both produced on-goal shots midway through the half. The game stalled at the 29-minute mark, giving squads a breather while coaches carried off an injured Rebels player.
A Mustangs player followed suit with five minutes left to play, after he, too, suffered a field injury and limped to his bench.
As East Lincoln grew eager to showcase their presence on the scoreboard, orange jerseys scurried around the Rebels defending goal box, taking last minute shots including one from Mustangs senior Michael Twiford. Even with a cast on his arm, he proved determined until the end.
Luckily for the East Lincoln team, last minute aggression in the box yielded a foul against their opponent, giving the evening’s underdogs a chance to score.
Salter took the team’s penalty kick at the 39-minute mark, scoring the Mustangs first and only match goal.
With only seconds left to play following the kick, there wasn’t enough time for East Lincoln to snag another point, sending the West Lincoln squad cheering and high-fiving off the field.
As Riley looked ahead to future games, he hoped his squad would “continue to play fundamental soccer and understand tactics in relation to game situations.”
East Lincoln currently has an overall record of 2-7.