PUMPKIN CENTER — The North Lincoln Knights varsity soccer team celebrated a 6-0 shutout Monday night at home against the Cherryville Ironmen in Southern Piedmont Conference play.
Sophomore Mitch Brown and senior Brendan D’Amato worked together in the half’s opening seconds to attack the visiting team’s goal, but junior Ironman Kacie Buff blocked the shot.
It wasn’t long before the home team began to rack up shots. At minute seven, North Lincoln cheered their first match goal with D’Amato’s header, who knocked the ball in off a free kick from freshman teammate Zach Tilley.
The Knights gained two consecutive corner kicks at the 12-minute mark, but neither attempt resulted in a shot on goal after Cherryville defenders thwarted the first play and no white jerseys were able to secure good footing on the ball during the team’s second advantage in front of the net.
North Lincoln freshman Justin Gannaway obtained his team’s second point off a pass from Brown nearly 18-yards from the goal.
Seconds later, referees blew an offsides whistle on the winning team.
Cherryville rarely found their way to the North Lincoln goal during the match, but at the 20-minute mark, junior Larry Waldroup raced down the field and took a shot. The ball soared past the goal.
Nine minutes later, the Knights again forced the ball into the Ironmen net with a goal from senior Connor Noonan and an assist by Tilley.
North Lincoln continued their skillful play into the half’s final minutes, again shooting two consecutive corners at the 33-minute mark. First, the home team headed the ball over the goal; the second time around one of the Knights’ momentum from an attempted header forced him to fall into the goal mouth.
The Knights led 3-0 over the Ironmen going into second-half play.
Junior Tyler Beam executed a fast break down the field’s left side in an attempt to break his team’s scoreless game, but North Lincoln defenders stole the ball before he could produce a shot.
Noonan lit up the scoreboard for the Knights with a fourth point at the 16-minute mark.
The home team pounded the Cherryville goal play after play in an effort to further dominate the match, but shots bounced off the crossbar twice and flew over the goal on multiple occasions, keeping the Ironmen’s junior goalkeeper Cameron Fitch on his toes.
Before the match ended, North Lincoln secured two additional goals in the final two minutes.
At the 38-minute mark, senior Marcus Carter passed the ball to sophomore teammate Hayes Irving for the team’s fifth point, and with only 45 seconds left to go, junior Jacob Gordon obtained a sixth goal.
North Lincoln head coach Tim Harris praised his team for taking control of the game and possessing the ball for a majority of the match, one that proved to be much less intense than last week’s battle against the Lincolnton Wolves, when freshman Knight Tyler Tilley suffered a broken leg from a slide tackle.
North Lincoln also played Monday’s match without senior starter Clayton Gannaway, who was forced to sit out after obtaining five yellow cards since the season’s start.
When asked about his player’s high number of significant fouls, Harris said some officials don’t like Gannaway’s strong and aggressive play.
“Some of the officials don’t care for it (his play),” he said. “It’s acceptable at a lot of levels, but at this level, they don’t like it.”
The Knights are currently 9-3-1 in overall play and ranked second in the Southern Piedmont 1A/2A Conference.