PUMPKIN CENTER — The Lincolnton Wolves scored three first-half goals on their way to a 4-1 win over the North Lincoln Knights in the teams’ final meeting of the regular season.
The Wolves have a one-game lead over the Knights in the Southern Piedmont Conference standings, but neither team has an easy road in the last three games before the playoffs.
The Wolves face Highland Tech today and close out the season at West Lincoln and against East Lincoln next week. Lincolnton won all three meetings earlier in the year, but came back from a 3-0 deficit against Highland Tech and scored two goals in overtime to beat East Lincoln.
North Lincoln closes out the year against at Cherryville, at Lake Norman Charter and against West Lincoln. The Knights lost to Lake Norman Charter, the No.1 team in the conference, 2-0, beat Cherryville 6-0 and defeated West Lincoln 2-1.
Lincolnton head coach Ian Leith said he was impressed with his team’s cohesiveness and teamwork in Monday’s match, and the game was the best the team has played so far. The Wolves maintained possession on North Lincoln’s side of the field, particularly in the second half.
Lincolnton took a 1-0 lead 10 minutes into the first half on a shot by senior forward Dennis Rodriguez. Rodriguez’s shot bounced harmlessly into the North Lincoln goalkeeper’s hands, but the ball slipped out and rolled into the goal.
The Knights tied the game at 1-1 less than 10 minutes later. Senior captain Clayton Gannaway’s free kick found sophomore Mitchel Brown, who flicked the ball into the goal with the back of his head.
North Lincoln had several missed opportunities following the equalizer, but the Knights’ shots were stifled by the Lincolnton defense or senior goalkeeper Kwawtli Mendez.
Sophomore Lincolnton midfielder Alejandro Cerdas took a 2-1 lead for the Wolves with a goal after a free kick with 16 minutes left in the first half. The Wolves extended their lead to 3-1 with five minutes remaining in the first half.
Junior forward Felipe Soto made a pass to senior midfielder Kevin Orias. Orias’s shot from far beyond the 18-yard mark found the back of North Lincoln’s net.
The Wolves opened the second half with an aggressive attack on the North Lincoln goal that paid off with 30 minutes left in the match. Senior midfielder David Segura’s free kick glanced off the head of junior Victor Lopez for a 4-1 lead for Lincolnton.
The Knights quickened their pace after the Lincolnton goal, but collected three yellow cards for aggressive play in a span of 10 minutes as a result.
Gannaway had the Knights’ best opportunity for a goal midway through the second half. His spinning shot off a deflection by the Lincolnton defense went wide.