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Lakewood Cougars fall in season opener
BURLINGTON — If the Cougars looked like a team that hadn't seen much time together on the pitch against Burlington-Edison, it'd be a fair assessment — and true.
"This is the first time we've been able to play on a full, grass field," said Lakewood manager Bryce Barker after his boys lost 2-0, March 15. "We've been practicing on a dirt field the past couple of weeks so, with that, I think the guys played better than anybody expected going into today."
Lakewood was deadlocked with Burlington-Edison in the first half, despite the Tigers having an advantage in possession for most of the first 40 minutes. Lakewood trailed in the shots tally, 6-3 and struggled to find the touch needed when passing on grass.
The Cougars looked to have pulled it together near the end of the first half, getting a few scoring attempts and having a better hold on the ball, but the Tigers did away with that notion right away after halftime.
Burlington-Edison had a barrage of shots in the first 10 minutes of the second half, and scored on the most unlikely of all — a 35-yard strike from Blake Dimock that found its way through the legs of a number of his teammates and Lakewood defenders in the 51st minute.
The Tigers added another goal off a rebound in the 69th minute.
Barker said he was impressed by the defense which had to be on its toes for much of the match.
"We're changing up our lineup with just two guys playing positions that they played last year," said Barker. "And for Sean (Hackworth), Evan (Thorpe) and Jason (Chase) to step in and play on that back line for us the way they did tonight will be huge this season."
Although it won't show up on the scoreboard, the Cougars had a number of chances to score, including a pair of clear shots inside the penalty box late in the first half and a few set pieces near the end of the second half.
Also, the play of goalkeeper Sam Roe should not go unnoticed. Despite allowing a pair of goals, the sophomore was tested all match in goal and came away with seven saves, including three of the diving variety.
"Burlington is a good squad, and you have to remember that they didn't lose anybody last year from a team that beat us 4-0 to start last season," said Barker.
Lakewood, which was outshot by Burlington-Edison 13-5 in the match, will have its home opener against King's, March 22, at 7 p.m.