Perez’s hat trick lifts Wolves
Lincolnton’s boys soccer team has been looking for someone to emerge as a star.
Jeffrey Perez has shined bright so far.
The senior had his second hat trick in as many matches Thursday, netting three goals in the Wolves’ 5-0 win over visiting North Lincoln.
Perez also scored three goals in the Wolves’ 4-2 win over the Knights on Monday in the teams’ season opener, giving coach Ian Leith a legitimate scoring threat in a year he felt was void of any stars.
“I was looking for a star and I think I’ve found one,” Leith said of Perez. “He’s really stepped up and took charge, and we need that.”
It took less than four minutes for Perez to find the net the first time, and he wove his way through the Knights defense for his second goal to give his team a 3-0 lead with 21 minutes left in the first half.
Perez showed off his skills just over two minutes into the second half when he was left all alone on the left side around 25 yards out. Jose Moya fed Perez a pass, and the senior bent it into the net over everyone’s head David Beckham-style and away from North Lincoln keeper Shawn Marks.
All Marks could do was watch, and all Perez could do was grin at his teammates.
“We kept attacking and attacking, and it paid off tonight,” Leith said.
Moya converted a penalty kick with 6:09 left to play for the final score, but Lincolnton’s second goal was a microcosm of the kind of night it was for the Knights (0-2).
Lincolnton freshman Matthew Perez –– Jeffrey’s younger brother –– fed a pass to sophomore Edward Lopez, who was sprinting down the middle of the field towards the goal. Both Lopez and Marks slid to get to the ball, and it ricocheted off the keeper’s leg and into the net for an own goal in the 18th minute.
Trailing 3-0 Lincolnton (2-0) keeper Daniel McBride came out of the box to grab a loose ball and missed, giving the Knights an empty net. Mitch Brown had a shot but missed wide, and it wound up being their only shot on goal of the first half.
Free subbing by the Wolves allowed North Lincoln six shots in the second half, but again, they were either wide, off a post, or saved by either McBride or backup keeper Diego Salgado, who had two saves.
Both Leith and Knights coach Tim Corvin acknowledged they were better than what they showed on Thursday.
“This isn’t us, we’re better than this,” Corvin said. “I think it’s this field. We’re cursed.”
Corvin, who was using tongue-and-cheek, said North Lincoln has never beaten the Wolves in boys soccer, and, by now, it’s all a mental game when the two teams meet.
“It’s in their heads now,” Corvin said. “We had some good shots and made some good plays but couldn’t get anything through. Lincolnton’s a good team, but we’re better than this.”
“They were a lot better when we played at their place on Monday,” he said, “but we did what we needed to do to win.”