DENVER — The East Lincoln Lady Mustangs gained their fifth conference win of the season, powering over Lincolnton’s Lady Wolves with a 6-0 shutout Monday night.
“East Lincoln is a very tough opponent, and we knew that going into it,” Lincolnton head coach Ian Leith told the Times-News.
Despite the significant defeat, which brought the squad’s record to an even 3-3 in the Southern Piedmont 1A/2A Conference, the Lady Wolves remain second among the conference’s 2A teams, an accomplishment Leith said he hopes his squad will maintain for the duration of the season.
The star player of Monday night’s match-up proved to be senior East Lincoln midfielder Tatum Auvil, who obtained a hat trick, securing all three goals within a five minute period in the first half. She also celebrated two assists.
In addition to his team’s offensive success, Lady Mustangs head coach Jason Dragoon praised junior goalkeeper Molli Dallin for her proactive maneuvers in the goal box, quickly shutting down her opponents’ attacks.
“She came out and took away four opportunities before they could become dangerous,” he said. “It was her best start of the year.”
Going into the first half, East Lincoln showcased their aggression and skillful passing game.
Leith considered the Denver team’s play in the first 20 minutes to have a dramatic effect on how his own squad battled their opponent the rest of the night.
“We fell apart mentally,” he said.
While the Lady Wolves did secure multiple scoring opportunities, the Lincolnton coach said his players “just couldn’t find the goal.”
The home team gained their first successful shot eight minutes into first-half play — the point scored by sophomore Kate Holt and assisted by Auvil on a direct shot across the goal mouth. It was the first varsity goal of Holt’s career, Dragoon said.
Throughout the half, Lincolnton struggled to move past the 18-yard line and into close proximity of their opponent’s net, but at the 16-minute mark, one lucky Lady Wolf snagged a quick shot on goal.
For the rest of the half, the Lady Mustangs forced Lincolnton to play a more defensive match as white and orange jerseys launched attack after attack on the visiting team’s net.
Dragoon attributed his players’ more productive field strategy to their willingness to “slow down and not rush things” while building their attacks.
From the 35-minute mark through the 38-minute mark, East Lincoln gained a goal a minute, with Auvil sinking three of the shots and sophomore teammate Lexi Smith obtaining the squad’s fifth point.
During second-half play, the Lady Mustangs subbed out a majority of their starters and gave underclassmen time on the field.
“We are very young, and it was nice to get all our sophomores some experience,” Dragoon said. “They really played strongly.”
For Lincolnton, Thristen Carr excelled on defense for her team, including a play at the 24-minute mark that kept her opponent’s offensive end from moving past the 20-yard line.
A short time later, the lady Wolves took back-to-back corner kicks with one player attempting to head the ball into the net.
With 10 minutes left on the clock, East Lincoln celebrated their sixth and final goal of the night. Junior Megan Lauterer snagged the point at the top of the goal box following a breakaway down field and several quick maneuvers around Lincolnton defenders.
While Leith has no doubt his team will move into the state playoffs later this season, he said his Lincolnton squad needs additional practice with “possession and team defense.”
Freshman Audrey Cardwell and sophomore Cassidy Farar also each celebrated an assist in Monday’s match.