LINCOLNTON — The Lincolnton Lady Wolves secured their first home victory of the season with a 2-0 shut out of the West Lincoln Lady Rebels in Southern Piedmont 1A/2A Conference play on Thursday.
It was also the victorious team’s first conference matchup of the year, Lincolnton head coach Ian Leith said.
He praised his squad for keeping their opponents from obtaining a goal as well as executing their most aggressive game up to this point.
“We played our best game so far,” Leith said.
While the team currently has a 3-2 overall record, the Lincolnton coach defended the squad’s early season losses, stating they battled through a tough nonconference schedule.
Leith said he purposefully scheduled the highly competitive matchups to give his team more experience at the season’s onset.
In addition, the Lady Wolves graduated Larissa Bonilla, one of their top players, at the end of last year and have been forced to step up their game this season if they wish to secure victories, Leith said. However, he is confident his team can meet the challenge.
“We have to work more together this year if we intend to secure wins,” he said.
And it appeared Thursday that the Lady Wolves were indeed on their “A-game,” scoring two goals early in the match.
While West Lincoln started the first half with possession of the ball, they didn’t dribble too far up the field before their home-team opponent prevented a shot and gained control of the game.
It was a corner kick at the 5-minute mark that offered Lincolnton the opportunity they were looking for to obtain the first point.
Alejandra Pena launched the ball towards a sea of players in the goal box, where teammate Iva Ortiz headed the shot into the back of the net.
Less than five minutes later, nearly 10 minutes into the half, Ortiz and Pena mixed it up for the crowd, with Ortiz assisting Pena’s shot with a throw-in, giving the team their second goal of the night.
While most of first-half play continued to take place on the Lady Rebels’ defending side, the red and white squad fought to even the score, particularly forward Taylor Sutton, who maintained her aggression throughout the match and took several shots on goal.
West Lincoln head coach Tom Riley also pointed out his team’s defensive play, praising freshman goalkeeper Brittany Dalama for her successful persistence in blocking her opponent’s goal attacks.
The Lady Wolves had her diving and scrambling in front of the net all night, but she stood her ground.
While Riley considered this year’s top conference squads to be either the East Lincoln Lady Mustangs or Lake Norman Charter’s Lady Knights, he has no doubt that his own players will be a source of tough competition in the Southern Piedmont 1A/2A Conference.
“It’ll be a competitive season,” he said.
The Lady Rebels are currently 1-3 in overall play and are working hard to recover from last year’s loss of four team seniors — players whom Riley said offered the squad great leadership.
Now, with nine freshman and multiple sophomores on the team, West Lincoln finds itself in a catch-22, trying to work out their kinks while simultaneously showcasing their skill and talent.
“We’ve got experience on one end and inexperience on the other,” Riley said.