Lakewood’s young Leopards, looking for their first win of the season, got it on the road Wednesday, defeating the Trask Titans 3-2 in what an elated coach Jay Faircloth called a scrappy game.
It was also a nail-biter, with the teams tied at 1 going into the half.
Sadi Zabala put Lakewood on the board first, with an assist by Joe Piota.
Faircloth said his team started off a little sluggish, nearly tired, but when they got that first goal, it was like fuel in their veins. “They just lit up. We got the first one and it pumped them right up, and by the second half they were on fire.
“Seriously, they were unbelievable. I couldn’t have been prouder of them.”
In the second period, Piota hit the back of the net twice more, once off an assist by Irving Ramirez and the second with an assist by Waylon Hewry.
“They just played really strong and really hard,” Faircloth stressed.
Up by 1, the Leopards held their collective breaths when Lakewood got two yellow cards, forcing Piota and the Lakewood goalie out of the game.
Then Trask had the opportunity at a free kick.
“I was holding my breath,” Faircloth admitted, “but Ross Strickland got the block.”
In his first year as head coach, Strickland said getting the win, his team’s first, and a conference win at that, was thrilling. “I’m tickled to death. These guys deserve it. They play hard, they practice hard and they never give up.”
He praised Trask’s young Titans, too, saying they gave Lakewood a good match.
“But we pulled it out and I’m very, very happy.”
Lakewood moves to 1-1 in the conference. They play host to county rival Midway Monday. Game time 5 p.m.