By DOUG EADS, CJ Correspondent
For one half on Monday night — much like their girl’s squad in the game before — the Lexington Christian Academy Eagles were making it look easy against homestanding Somerset in the Boy’s 11th/12th Region All A Sectional Finals at halftime.
LCA scored on a pair of corner kicks, getting goals from Connor Starks and Grafton Hamilton in the opening period, while Liam Hamilton headed in another score to give the Eagles a 3-0 lead over Somerset at the intermission.
Gave over, right?
Not so fast.
Somebody forgot to tell Steve Wallace’s crew this one was over.
Somerset put forth a tremendous rally in the second period of play, getting a pair of scores from Carlos Canella and a goal from Cole Smith to knot things up late at 3-3, forcing the game into a shootout.
The Jumpers won that shootout by a final tally of 3-0, coming all the way back from the dead for a hard-fought and thrilling, 4-3 (3-0) win over LCA, advancing to the Boy’s All A State Soccer Tournament.
So coach Wallace, down 3-0 at halftime and getting outplayed, what did you say to your team at the intermission when you took them into the locker room?
“I simply challenged their manhood,” stated a very candid and jubilant coach Wallace, after his team improved to 10-2-2 on the year with the comeback win over the Eagles.
“I told our guys that I begged all these people to come out here and watch us play tonight, and then our team came out and didn’t play with any heart whatsoever in that first half,” said the Jumper coach. “I told them they had better tell every person that came out to watch them that they were sorry and they had better pay them their money back if they weren’t going to do any better in the next 40 minutes.”
Do better, they did.
Wallace’s club came out of the locker room and looked like a totally different team in the second period, playing with a fire and passion that was sorely missing in the opening half of play.
Canella’s first goal of the contest came with just :57 gone by in the second half, and that goal cut the LCA lead to 3-1 and ignited the fire and Somerset’s rally.
“That first goal by Carlos so early in the second half was huge,” pointed out Wallace. “That goal really got us going.”
After Canella’s first goal of the evening, the score remained 3-1 until late in the game.
Despite the fact Somerset was seemingly outplaying the Eagles at almost every turn, the simple fact was the Jumpers were still staring at a two-goal deficit to LCA very late in the match.
That is until the 7:27 mark on the clock, when Canella’s second goal trimmed the deficit to 3-2, and all of a sudden things got very interesting.
Late in the game with just over four minutes left to play, Reza Katanbaf’s throw in deep in LCA’s territory was headed into the net by teammate Cole Smith, knotting things up at 3-3 and sending a very partisan Somerset crowd into an absolute frenzy.
“I was very disappointed in the way we played in the first half — not playing with that physicality, speed, and passion,” pointed out Wallace.
“I simply told them, if we’re going to play this way with that kind of effort, we just won’t play tough teams any more,” added the Jumper coach. “I have to give our guys credit, because they showed a lot of heart in the second half by gutting this one out. It’s tough to come back from a 3-0 deficit in the second half against anybody, but it’s especially difficult playing against a quality team like LCA.”
With the win, Somerset advances to the Boy’s All A State Soccer Tournament, that gets underway on Saturday afternoon in Elizabethtown.
The Jumpers will face University Heights Academy in the state tourney Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m.