PUMPKIN CENTER — The North Lincoln Knights varsity soccer team secured their fourth season shutout Wednesday night at home in a 3-0 victory over Southern Piedmont Conference opponent and Gaston County squad the Highland Tech Rams.
Previous shutouts this year were against Maiden, Bandys and Sun Valley High School.
The Knights possessed the ball at kickoff with senior Jacob Stegal immediately taking off down the field’s right side, dribbling toward his opponent’s goal. His shot soared past the net, proving unsuccessful.
The Rams followed suit with their own hungry attack on goal, showcasing their speed up front with sophomore forward Owen Levy speeding around white jerseys. Fortunately for North Lincoln, senior defender Clayton Gannaway scrambled on the back line to block Levy’s shot.
At the six-minute mark, senior Brendan D’Amato gained the home team’s first goal of the night. D’Amato secured the ball from a teammate’s free kick 30-yards out from the net, shooting low and hard into the goal.
It was the first of many celebratory match moments for the Knights including a second team point at minute 14 with teamwork from senior Connor Noonan and sophomore Mitch Brown.
Noonan, in the midfield position, launched a pass to the front line where Brown secured the shot, doubling his team’s lead over the Rams.
Levy raised fans’ spirits mid-way through the half with a close shot on goal, but the ball glided directly over the top post.
Before the first period came to a close, North Lincoln high-fived over a third goal at the 25-minute mark after Gannaway headed the ball into the net off a corner kick.
The half ended with the Highland Tech squad knocking the ball around inside the Knights goal box, unable to produce a shot.
Once second-half play commenced, the Rams increased their aggression and field battle, preventing additional North Lincoln goals.
Levy took a wide-open shot near the Knights net at the three-minute mark, sending the ball high over the goal. In addition, the home team’s defensive line worked tirelessly to keep their opponents from moving past the 18-yard line, protecting their three-point lead.
Midway through the half, Brown snagged a shot on goal while simultaneously colliding with a Rams defender inside the box, but referees kept silent and didn’t blow a foul whistle on the play.
North Lincoln goalkeeper Brian Lehman took a tumble in front of the net at the 24-minute mark, leaving the visiting team’s front line an opportunity to secure a first goal. The ball rolled across the goal mouth without touching a cleat.
Rams fans again gained confidence in their squad with under 10 minutes left to go in the half after senior Jordan Castillo chipped the ball high over players’ heads and towards the goal. From the stands, the shot appeared a success, but disappointment rang out across the sidelines after North Lincoln regained possession.
The match ended with the Knights’ final attack on the Highland Tech net.
“We showed a lot more control and concentration on keeping the ball and thought we did very well,” North Lincoln head coach Tim Harris said.