Soccer can be a game of inches. One pass through the defense or a shot past the goalie can be the difference.
The Lakeland boys soccer team played its first non-conference game in a home tilt against Medford. The Thunderbirds won 1-0 and coach Ihor Myshchyshyn was happy with the win.
“It’s fantastic. We were worried about this one, not sure what we were getting ourself into,” Myshchyshyn said. “We got our first goal, then we were able to play a little more defense, let them bring the ball to us.”
The lone goal of the game came at the end of the first half. Kyle Bengtson took the shot from 20 yards out for the goal in the 45th minute after a punt from goalie Vincent Strong.
The second half got crazy. Both teams possessed the ball evenly as they went for a score. Medford desperately tried to tie the game while Lakeland wanted to have an insurance goal.
It was also a physical game. There were little bumps and shoves and fouls on both teams. On top of that, it started to drizzle toward the end.
Medford seemed to have a goal midway through the second half, but it hit the top of the goalpost and went straight down. There was no signal for a goal and the save was made by the Thunderbirds.
In the 75th minute, Strong and the defense as a whole made the save of the day.
After Strong made a save on a shot attempt, Medford was able to get the rebound. The goal was wide open until one of the Lakeland defenders blocked a second shot away.
Medford had one more shot at the goal when Strong came out of nowhere to make the save. The score was still 1-0.
“A lot of credit goes to the defense,” Myshchyshyn said. “We have a nice four back line who are doing fantastic, buying us time to let our holding midfielders come back to help out.”
In the 80th minute, Lakeland had a chance to extend their lead on a corner kick but could not score a goal.
Brandon Boh made a run within the next minute, but the Medford defense thwarted any chance of Boh scoring one himself.
Medford had a free kick off a Lakeland penalty in the 85th minute near the box. But the shot was over the net and no good. The score remained 1-0 Lakeland.
Lakeland kept trying to salt it away as the seconds ticked off. But it was Medford who made one last run at it.
With one minute to go, Medford got the ball down to the Lakeland side. The ball went out of bounds and it was a corner kick.
“We had a lot of opportunities,” Myshchyshyn said. “There were a lot of break aways, a lot of combination plays that went through both wings and that’s something that we try to promote and progress through more and more.”
After attempting the corner, Strong struggled to get the ball to make the save with a lot of traffic near him.
The ball snuck away and Medford tried to go for the open shot. It was unsuccessful and time ran out. Lakeland won 1-0.
Lakeland was back in action Thursday at Rhinelander. Coverage of that game will be in the Sept. 10 edition of The Times
After that, the Thunderbirds play Thursday, Sept. 12 at Northland Pines starting at 4:30 p.m.
Brett LaBore may be reached at [email protected] or [email protected]