VALE — The Lincolnton Wolves, currently ranked at the top of the Southern Piedmont 1A/2A Conference’s 2A division, proved victorious on the road Monday, defeating the West Lincoln Rebels 2-0.
The win not only secured Lincolnton’s high conference rank but also gave them a better opportunity for home-field advantage through the fourth round of the 2A state playoffs, according to head coach Ian Leith.
While he believed his team’s play lacked the usual aggression and excitement from previous season games, he was proud of the victory.
“We played well enough to win but not at the level that we normally do,” Leith said.
He also praised the Rebels for showcasing their competitive nature during Monday’s match.
“West played tactically well and are playing exceptionally well,” he said. Leith has no doubt the conference rival will excel in the upcoming playoffs.
During a first half primarily dominated by the Wolves, the Rebels were able to secure fast break opportunities and other advantages near the net including a free kick from 20-yards out at the 10-minute mark. Sophomore Ivan Calvillo launched the shot, which junior teammate Daniel Amaya shot past the goal, exciting home team fans.
Lincolnton had a near-goal shortly after at the 14-minute mark following senior midfielder Marco Nino’s shot just over the top goal post.
Wolves’ senior Chad Smith attempted to sink the ball into the net with his head nearly 30 minutes into first-half play, but his efforts proved unsuccessful.
West Lincoln goalkeeper Cris Rios executed quick catches and consistent saves, keeping the scoreboard empty through halftime.
However, it wasn’t long before Lincolnton celebrated the first match goal off a penalty kick at the four-minute mark. Referees blew the whistle against the Rebels following a foul inside the box after one of the home team’s defenders sent a Wolves’ forward to the ground during an attack on goal.
Senior forward Dennis Rodriguez sank the point in front of the goal mouth.
West Lincoln displayed a power shot at the 14-minute mark, launching the ball straight to the net from 40 yards out, forcing Lincolnton senior goalkeeper Kwawtli Mendez to jump into the air to catch the shot.
The Wolves cheered their second goal at the 29-minute mark from senior forward Erick Folger.
Despite the 2-point score difference, the Rebels battled their opponents until the bitter end, closing the game with senior Steven Rojas’s shot past the Lincolnton net in the final 10 seconds of play.
The Wolves currently boast a winning 14-4-1 record including nine conference wins. The Rebels are 4-7 in the conference and 6-8-1 overall.