Lakewood soccer runs past Sultan, 3-0

The Sultan goalkeeper snuffs out a potential Lakewood scoring opportunity. -
The Sultan goalkeeper snuffs out a potential Lakewood scoring opportunity.
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A physical matchup of two quick teams ended with Lakewood on top. Despite a comfortable margin of victory, 3-0, Lakewoods lead never felt safe against a hard charging and harder tackling Sultan Turks. The March 19 game was scrappy, with a number of uncalled challenges resulting in near injury to the players.
Early in the game the Cougars midfield combination of Eric Hawks and Craig Hooks controlled the play, feeding several scoring opportunities to the forwards up front. Turk goalkeeper Israel Gonzalez saved several clean break-away chances to keep the score level. Gonzalez again came through for Sultan after a Turk defender committed a hand-ball foul inside the penalty area. Lucas Antonascio took the penalty shot for Lakewood, aiming low and hard toward the left corner of the goal. Unfortunately for Antonascio, Gonzalez guessed correctly and made a tremendous diving save, deflecting the ball just past the post and out of bounds.
Lakewood wasted no time recovering from the disappointment of a missed opportunity as Craig Hooks nodded in the ensuing corner kick to put the Cougars in front 1-0. A fitting result for Hooks given his strong play in the midfield up until then.
Five minutes later, Evander Ochoa was robbed of a goal by a tremendous clearance by a Sultan defender. Ochoa cleanly headed a ball from a Lakewood corner kick that beat the goalkeeper, only to be cleared on the goalline by the desperate defenders leaping save.
Instead of reeling in disappointment again, Hooks produced the play of the game and stamped out any Sultan chance of victory. From his spot on the right flank he fed a perfectly weighted through-ball to Ochoa breaking free of the Sultan defense. Ochoa timed his run to be onside and burst into space right as the ball arrived at his feet. He finished cleanly past the keeper, effectively ending Sultans chances.
After halftime, Sultan upped their intensity, including several questionable tackles of the Lakewood players. The referee allowed play to continue as the physicality increased. A lone yellow card was issued to Lakewood sweeper Gerardo Resendiz for a comparatively innocent challenge against a Sultan forward.
The game stayed mainly in the midfield as the second half produced few real chances on goal. Finally in the 75th minute Lakewoods Brian Star iced the game with a precise pass between two Sultan defenders to a streaking Ochoa. Ochoa notched his second goal of the night. A last minute stop by Lakewoods keeper Kevin Hooks preserved the shutout and kept Sultan from any consolation prize.
We played great tonight with good passing the whole time, said Craig Hooks, We really moved the ball well.
Lakewoods next home game is March 29 against Granite Falls.

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