Young Leopards exceed expectations


Expected to finish in cellar, Lakewood makes playoff appearance

By Chris Froat - Sports Writer



Leopards head coach Jay Faircloth during the early games of the season. He helped coach his young team only expected to win two games to the second round of the playoffs. They ended the regular season at 11-12 overall and 9-6 in their conference play.


Lakewood’s Edwin Vanegas in a game during the regular season, the sophomore scored 11 goals this season in their run to second round were they lost to Research Triangle 3-0.


While their recent 3-0 loss to Research Triangle means an end to Lakewood’s season, the Leopards far surpassed expectations.

“We were predicted to only win two games and we finished second in our conference and made it to the second game of playoffs,” remarked Coach Jay Faircloth. “I got a good group of boys. Each team has a special place in my heart. Last year we had a great record. This year we only had four seniors and we made it to second in the conference and won our first game of the playoffs. I’m so proud of them.”

Winning 11 of their games with eight shutouts and their goalkeeper Tyler Hobbs being ranked fifth in the state, the Leopards may not be champions, but being a young team that came so far is no small feat.

“These boys only gave up one game on me,” praised Faircloth further. “Every other match this season they fought tooth and nail; it didn’t matter how young we were, what the odds were, these boys fought every game. We’re always a family and these boys are so amazing.”

While Faircloth early on called this one of his toughest seasons, his opinion changed. He described it in hindsight as an amazing year.

While Faircloth isn’t planning on returning to the soccer field next year, he isn’t against the idea.

“I learned a lot in the six years I’ve been coaching here. (Coach) Allen Jackson has been a godsend,” he said. “I went from knowing nothing about soccer to it being one of my all-time favorite sports. I’m not against returning again, but this spring I’ll be back at college trying to get my BA in History.”

“I always wanted to be a teacher. My mother spent 26 years in the educational system. Originally, I wanted to be like my mom, but then it became a dream for me,” Faircloth concluded.

With track practice starting and baseball in the spring, Faircloth will still be with Lakewood. With such a good season and dedicated players, Lakewood will be aiming to keep pace with this season’s performance next year.

Leopards head coach Jay Faircloth during the early games of the season. He helped coach his young team only expected to win two games to the second round of the playoffs. They ended the regular season at 11-12 overall and 9-6 in their conference play.
http://www.clintonnc.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/web1_C.-Fair.jpgLeopards head coach Jay Faircloth during the early games of the season. He helped coach his young team only expected to win two games to the second round of the playoffs. They ended the regular season at 11-12 overall and 9-6 in their conference play.

Lakewood’s Edwin Vanegas in a game during the regular season, the sophomore scored 11 goals this season in their run to second round were they lost to Research Triangle 3-0.
http://www.clintonnc.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/web1_lhspo-1.jpgLakewood’s Edwin Vanegas in a game during the regular season, the sophomore scored 11 goals this season in their run to second round were they lost to Research Triangle 3-0.
Expected to finish in cellar, Lakewood makes playoff appearance

By Chris Froat

Sports Writer

Reach Chris Froat at froatc@gmail.com. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @SampsonInd.

Reach Chris Froat at froatc@gmail.com. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @SampsonInd.

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