The Pacers get a second-half goal from Mauricio Loyo to win
It wasn’t always easy and it wasn’t always pretty, but the Lakeridge boys soccer team made sure that its Thursday, Sept. 22, game turned into a win.
The Pacers, playing in non-league action at Ida B. Wells High School, went scoreless for the first 54 minutes against the Guardians, but broke through for the night’s lone goal and walked off with a 1-0 victory.
“At the beginning of the second half, I could tell we were determined to get a goal and the team fought well,” said Lakeridge junior Mauricio Loyo, who scored his team’s sole goal. “We never put our heads down. I knew there was a goal coming. It was just a matter of time.”
“It was just a matter of making sure we were organized and keeping them out of our final third so I think that’s what we did,” said senior defender Luke Yanello, who helped hold the Guardians to a single shot on goal. “At times, it was sloppy, but we got the job done.”
“They had a lot of energy the whole game — that’s what their strong point was — and we just had to match that and make it so they wouldn’t be the only ones,” added junior Spencer Lovell, who assisted on Loyo’s goal.
With the win, the fifth-ranked Pacers’ fifth straight, Lakeridge improved to 5-0-1 overall. No. 37 Wells, meanwhile, saw its winless streak grow to four games and fell to 1-3-3 overall. Next up, Lakeridge plays Grant at Delta Park’s Strasser Field at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27.
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The Pacers held the upper hand at the start of Thursday’s game — both in terms of possession and shots — but failed to score. The Guardians rebounded with a pair of corner kicks and a dangerous opportunity by Seth Merrill with 17 minutes left in the opening half, but like Lakeridge, couldn’t convert.
The Pacers closed the half with a flourish — getting four shots in the final 11 minutes — but still couldn’t score and went into halftime tied with the Guardians 0-0.
Lakeridge opened the second half with more focus, however, began to dominate possession and — finally — broke through to score. Lovell started the scoring play by making a long run up the right side of the field, angling toward the Wells goal, drawing the defense toward him, then dropping a pass to Loyo. Loyo was ready and hit a right-footed shot behind Wells senior Ethan Kievit and past Guardians’ senior keeper Matthias Junker to the right corner of the goal.
“They just made a mistake and we took advantage of it,” Lovell said. “Mauricio did a great job following me in, I sent it to his feet and he put it in the goal like he should.”
“I saw Spencer make a great run and I saw the defender commit to Spencer so I stayed a bit behind so Spencer could play a diagonal ball back and I just put it in bottom right,” Loyo said.
While Lakeridge wouldn’t score again, the Pacers continued to control the ball and create shots and corner kicks. Wells, meanwhile, got its lone shot on goal — a hard, 25-yard shot by junior Jaden Igarta with eight minutes left to play — but it was stopped easily by Lakeridge keeper Chase Nelson and the Pacers kept their unbeaten record intact.
“I thought we held out. (We had a) clean sheet, obviously that’s important,” Yanello said. “I think it’s just a matter of focus, keeping our heads engaged 100% of the time. Obviously, we’ve done well … but it’s about keeping engaged the whole game and just dominating the full 80 minutes.”
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