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Lakewood dusts off Blaine
The field wasnt slanted Thursday night when the Lakewood Cougars took on the Blaine Borderites in a non-league soccer match, but the 6-1 score sure seemed that way.
The entire first half Lakewood controlled the ball in Blaine territory, knocking on the door early and often before Evander Ochoa opened the scoring in the 13th minute. While a Blaine midfielder argued with the referee over possession of a throw in, an alert Ochoa took a quick throw from a teammate and slipped through the gap created in the defense. He drove a bending shot around Blaine keeper Miguel Alvarez into the back of the net.
Lakewood continued the onslaught, earning two corner kicks thanks to the inspired play of Andrew Escalante. Escalante kept pressure forward on the Blaine defense with his runs down the sideline.
Both Lakewood corner kicks failed to produce a goal but Ochoa broke through again in the 17th minute, crushing home a goal front opportunity. The rout was on as Ochoa tallied a hat trick in only the games 20th minute. Escalante provided a precisely placed ball and Ochoa finished easily past the poor Blaine goalkeeper.
The Cougars pressured hard the entire first half, with Joseph Hawkins missing a chance from close range and Jamie Hoffman barely missing a goal front cross.
With very little build up or pace, the Blaine midfield struggled to keep up with Lakewood. Cougars central midfielder Erik Hawks distributed the ball openly out to his wings with no real difficulty. Only one moment of uncertainty in front of the Lakewood goal, a miscommunication between sweeper Gerardo Resendiz and goalie Peter Karrenberg, led to a Blaine scoring chance. But even that chance was quickly snuffed out by a booming Resendiz clearance and a return to the attack by Lakewood.
The second half produced more of the same for the home side. Escalante burst past the defense for a goal of his own to make it 4-0. Elio Puentes fired in a long-range missile two minutes later to add to Blaines misery.
With 20 minutes remaining the visitors finally showed signs of life. Blaine gathered more force in the attack and eventually netted a goal on the right foot of Ryan Tripp. A last second finish by Joseph Hawkins for Lakewood completed the scoring and fittingly ended the match.
Afterwards the star Ochoa said, The team worked well together today. We werent selfish and we moved the ball. We got some good breaks too.
His counterpart up front, Escalante, felt similarly. Evander finished well today. Were trusting each other more now and playing the passing game.
If the March 16 game is any indication, it looks like another extremely successful season in the making for Lakewood soccer.
As Ochoa later said, If we continue like this, I believe well be a nightmare for teams at the district level and at State.