Warriors, South Laurel deadlock season opener

CALEB LOWNDES I CJ

Southwestern High School junior Keegan McDaniel (right) controls the ball in the Warriors' season opener against South Laurel High School on Monday at the Plains. The two teams tied 1-1.

Sometimes a tie is better than a loss.

On Monday night at the Plains in the Southwestern High School boys soccer team's season opener, a 1-1 tie game might have been a welcomed relief for the young Warriors.

The defending 12th Region champion Warriors trailed South Laurel 1-0 going into the second half of play. In the 56th minute of play, Southwestern senior Dylan Stevens nailed a long-range bender that found the right corner of the net for the game's equalizer. Stevens goal was set up by an assist by junior John Noyola. Steven's goal tied the game at 1-1, which turned out to be the final score.

"Right now, we are young and inconsistent," Southwestern coach Sean McBride stated. "Half of these kids out here didn't play much varsity last season. I thought, overall, our defense played good, but we have areas where we break down easily and we have got to fix that."

"I thought, barring the last 10 minutes, our offense controlled the second half," McBride stated. "We controlled possession, and we did the first 20 minutes of the first half, but we have got to more consistent in the last 20 minutes of the game. We we just knocking the ball around and not really moving into space. It is just something we are going to have to learn to do a little more consistently. It is just going to take some time."

After the Warriors started off the game strong with four unanswered shots at goal, South Laurel capitalized on their first goal attempt in the 16th minute when sophomore Will McCowan scored off a cross from Clayton Miller. South Laurel would hold a 1-0 lead into the halftime break.

"South's first score sort of threw us off our game, and that sort of comes with lack of experience and having to face adversity at the varsity level," McBride stated. "To our credit, after halftime my guys responded and played very well in the second half. I definitely don't have any complaints effort wise with my team. This is the first game, and I will take it for the first game."

The teams were evenly matched on the scoreboard as well as shot attempts. South Laurel outshot Southwestern by a close 13-12.

However in the final 10 minutes of the match, South Laurel was controlling the goal attempts. South's Quinn Rison, McCowan, Zach Smart, and Clayton Stacy all had solid attempts with two shots outside the frame and two defended by Southwestern senior keeper Caleb Seward.

In the final seconds of the game, the Warriors got the ball in front of the goal off a corner kick but could not finish it off. Southwestern's Mason Mink and Juan Contrares got shot attempts to open the second half, but both attempts sailed high.

Southwestern's Stevens, Carson Albright and Keegan McDaniel opened the game with shot attempts. Stevens and McDaniel were on frame, while Albright's shot sailed wide. Noyola and Riley Whitis got off shots in the final 12 minutes of the opening half.

After his first score, South Laurel's McCowan got off two more shots within a three-minute span. In the 34th minute, South's Ethan McNew tried to punch in a rebound shot at goal, but is was saved by Southwestern's Seward.

Southwestern (0-0-1) will host Richmond Model on Thursday, Aug.15.

STEVE CORNELIUS is the CJ Sports Editor and can be reached at sports@somerset-kentucky.com. Follow him on Twitter at @CJSportseditor.

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