DENVER — The West Lincoln Rebels varsity soccer team made school history with their first-ever win over the East Lincoln Mustangs earlier in the season.
The Rebels (5-5-1, 3-4 Southern Piedmont Conference) repeated that task on Monday, sweeping the regular-season series with the Mustangs, with a last-minute 1-0 victory.
“I figured whoever got on the board first would be the team that won,” West Lincoln head coach Tom Riley said. “I knew we couldn’t sit back; we had to have their guys covered.”
Senior West Lincoln forward Ethan Bumgarner scored the winning goal with less than two minutes left in the game. He fielded a pass across the mouth of the goal, jostled with an East Lincoln defender and tapped the ball in, just out of reach of the arms of the East Lincoln goalkeeper.
The goal brought the East Lincoln offense to life for the final 90 seconds of the match. Senior Darin Salter secured a free kick near midfield and dropped the ball into West Lincoln’s goal box but sophomore Garrett Reavis’s header went over the crossbar as time expired.
“East Lincoln challenged the ball well,” Riley said. “There are still some things we need to work on in these last five games but I’m proud of our performance and attitude. We’ve been working on setting the ball and coming out attacking early so we’re not on our heels playing defense. East Lincoln normally has good counterattacks so I knew when they got the ball we had to make sure we got back on defense.”
The Mustangs (3-14, 1-7 SPC) were relentless in their attack from the first whistle, taking three shots on goal in the opening eight minutes of the first half before West Lincoln got its first shot. West Lincoln senior goalkeeper Cris Rios fell on East Lincoln’s first two shots, from Brett Shanklin and Salter, and then tipped a long-range shot by Michael Twiford over the crossbar. Riley said Rios’ saves helped spark the rest of the Rebels.
“His game and some of the saves he had really picked up the team,” he said. “I think that really got the guys going. They were still taking about some of his saves on the way back and again at school in the morning.”
The Mustangs had their first close call on the West Lincoln goal with seven minutes left in the first half. Reavis took an indirect free kick just outside the West Lincoln goal box and tapped the ball over to Salter. Salter’s shot slammed off the right goalpost as the first half ended.
The Rebels came out of the halftime break with a renewed attack on the East Lincoln goal. West Lincoln made five runs on the East Lincoln goal before a corner kick by the Mustangs landed in Rios’ hands.
Riley said West Lincoln’s third-place spot in the conference in the final weeks of the regular season shows the team and the program are headed in the right direction.
“It speaks a lot of these guys, and how hard they’ve worked, but it also speaks of the program,” he said. “Some of these seniors were in eighth grade when I started coaching high school. They’ve carried on what others have done in the past. It shows how much these guys have worked, but it also shows how hard the former players have worked to get these guys ready. It’s going the way it needs to be going.”