Lakewood won their first round playoff game Wednesday night, playing host to Perquimans and blanking them in a penalty shootout 3-0 to escape to the second round.
For Lakewood, their first game of the playoffs was not a short one. With both teams showcasing impressive defense, neither could find a score during regulation.
“After looking on Maxpreps Monday and seeing who we would be playing, I said ‘look boys, we’re playing a mirror image of ourselves,’” said Lakewood coach Jay Faircloth. “They were 9-11, we were 10-11, they got a hell of a defense, man. We pushed them hard in the second half; it looked like they were getting tired, but their defense held on hard.”
Not even two 10-minute overtime periods and another two five-minute sudden death sessions could end the stalemate, it came down to a shootout.
The Leopards were able to advance behind successful penalty kicks by Hector Valenzuela, Edwin Vanegas and Erick Garcia and stellar defense from goalie Tyler Hobbs.
Garcia, who got the final goal for the Leopards, was hugged by his entire team as Hobbs was later lifted up in celebration.
“This wasn’t our first shootout, but it was our first playoff shootout and the format is quite different,” Faircloth explained. “It was a long night for our boys, but they played aggressive, they played hard and I’m proud of them. The team this year they brought was better than last. I just met their coach, but he’s a great guy. But our team, even if they drive me crazy and give me gray hair, I’d follow them into battle any day of the week.”
Valenzuela had eight steals; Austin Hale, one shot and four steals; Logan Thomas had two shots and 10 steals; Garcia, six steals;Luis Maradiaga two shots, eight steals, Carlos Estrada had one shot, 10 steals, Yiovanni Rosas had three shots, 10 steals, Jorge Ramirez had 12 steals; Vanegas, two shots, 12 steals; Isai Rosales, eight steals; Jason Varela, four steals; Rafael Pena, two steals; and Mason Cashwell had one steal.
The Leopards will face Research Triangle in the second round.
Reach Chris Froat at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @SampsonInd.