Boys Soccer Pats drop district thriller

Published 1:55 pm Thursday, September 28, 2017

By Matt Overing
matthew.overing@amnews.com

STANFORD — Saturday was filled with important games on all levels.

It was the most important day of the season so far for the boys’ 45th District, as Lincoln County hosted Boyle County for a chance at the No. 1 seed in the 45th District tournament.

Boyle came out on top 2-1 behind two goals from senior Nik Ruby, giving the Rebels a clearer shot at making the district final and moving on to the 12th Region tournament.

The loss puts Lincoln against Danville in the first round of the district tournament, and the Ads are a team that no one wants to face. They’ve scored more goals this year per game than any other region team.

Early in Saturday’s contest, though, it was Lincoln with the advantage.

The Patriots opened scoring just 60 seconds after kickoff when Trey Cummins climbed highest to meet a Gavin Poynter corner, drilling the ball into the back of the net. 

Lincoln had the intensity from the start, something that head coach Lewis Cummins was happy with after the game.

“We didn’t have as much possession as we wanted, but we fought hard,” coach Cummins said. “I thought we played hard and got that quick early goal, that helped us, but then there was that lucky PK call.”

Boyle’s Ryan Henry was taken down in the box and Ruby converted the penalty, tying the game 1-1 with 12 minutes left in the first half.

The two teams entered halftime tied 1-1 and would remain tied for a majority of the second half, thanks to strong defense from both teams.

The Rebels had more of the ball, but Lincoln’s gameplan was effective.

“I think Lincoln played very well,” Boyle coach Cris McMann said. “You could obviously tell, their strategy to me was to sit back and let us possess the ball. They were going to defend in the box. They did a very good job of that.”

Boyle’s gameplan on defense was effective as well: Trey Cummins is one of the most dynamic attackers in the state, with 18 goals and 13 assists to his name this season. The Rebels’ two best playmakers — Ryan Henry and Caleb Jackson — took turns  marking him throughout the game.

“Trey Cummins, he’s good,” McMann said. “We knew he was dangerous. Our strategy was to just mark him up.”

Coach Cummins — Trey’s father — said he was surprised that the Rebels made that move.

“Our gameplan was with Ryan (Henry) and Caleb (Jackson) up front, we didn’t expect them to man mark Trey,” coach Cummins said.

“We made sure we had Trey back on the defensive end for corners because he’s one of our best at getting to those. But our effort was there, I was very proud of them. It’s one of those games that you hate for there to be a loser.”

Boyle couldn’t crack the Lincoln defense, coming close multiple times but struggling to beat Carter Tillett. 

“We didn’t deal well with their low-pressure defense,” McMann said. “We couldn’t find gaps. That’s something we’re going to have to work on.”

Lincoln’s defense did marking of their own, with Austin Wethington tasked with slowing down Henry, Boyle’s leading goalscorer.

“Austin Wethington did a really good job of running with Ryan,” coach Cummins said. “Our two centerbacks, they do a good job of just playing. And our goalie, he did a good job today. He’s inexperienced, this is his first year playing goalie.”

Ruby hit the crossbar once and Eli Goggin had a pair of chances prevented by the Lincoln defense in the second half.

It was Ruby who would finally break the deadlock, when Lincoln’s defense was slow to come out to meet him outside of the box. He curled a 25-yard shot just out of Tillett’s reach to put the Rebels ahead with 75 seconds left.

“That was huge,” McMann said. “That’s great for him, senior year, winning that game to get us the No. 1 seed. That was nice.”

Boyle’s win gives the Rebels some breathing room before the district tournament, which will be held at Lincoln County.

For the Patriots, they’ll have to meet the intensity of the Admirals if they want to win, coach Cummins said. Lincoln beat the Admirals in Danville on Sept. 11, 2-1.

“It’s going to be a very tough one,” he said. “It was a 2-1 game also, and they’re going to come in very hungry. We’ve got to match that, we’ve got to be just as hungry as they are. They’re definitely going to be ready for us.”