Lakewood cruises to 3-1 victory
LAKEWOOD With Evander Ochoa and Gerardo Resendiz injured and on the sidelines, Lakewoods soccer team made the necessary adjustments to win against a tough South Whidbey team.
Regular central midfielder Eric Hawks switched to sweeper to replace Resendizs leadership in the back. Hawks regular position was filled by Brian Star, the sophomore sensation with the low socks, who befuddled the Whidbey defense all evening.
Despite the relatively safe margin of victory for Lakewood, the game was in doubt early on. South Whidby struck first with a goal in the 8th minute, as a flicked ball from the center forward found a streaking winger. The shot caught goalkeeper Kevin Hooks off-guard and unable to react in time.
Lakewood equalized less than five minutes later as Brian Star took a pass from defender Quinton Baldwin and zoomed up the center of the field. As he wove through defending traffic, Star spotted a cutting Andrew Escalante. With a slick pass through three defenders, Star freed Escalante on a clear break in front of the goal. Escalante finished emphatically, jumping over a sliding goalkeeper as he watched his shot hit the back of the net.
The goal relaxed Lakewoods team and allowed them to play more fluidly in the midfield, taking chances at their leisure. As the contest shifted into the second half, it fell into a comfort zone of both teams controlling the ball, playing possession soccer.
Then Escalante began to make furious runs up in the attack. His energy served as a catalyst for the entire team, as the tempo picked up around the 50th minute. A long cross from Baldwin found a camped-out Escalante in front of the Whidbey net. Escalante banged the ball with his head but the Whidbey keeper made a tremendous diving save. Unfortunately for South Whidbey, the goalie could not corral the rebound and Craig Hooks raced in behind the play to finish, putting Lakewood ahead 2-1.
In the 59th minute, Lakewood caught a break, as a defensive hand-ball inside their own penalty area went unnoticed by both the referee and linesman. From a South Whidbey corner kick, the ball took a strange hop across the front of the goal and skipped directly into the hand of a Lakewood defender, however play continued and Lakewood cleared the ball.
South Whidbey never threatened again.
In the 65th minute, Escalante again burst forward for Lakewood, blasting a shot on Whidbeys goalie that was tipped up, but not over the bar. An alert Whidbey defender swept the ball off the goalline before Lakewood could knock it home.
The temporary reprieve lasted only six minutes, as Escalante found some wiggle room on the left sideline and centered a ball directly to the feet of Joseph Hawkins, who slammed it into the back of the net and ended South Whidbeys hopes of a comeback.
Afterward, Brian Star talked about the teams steadiness.
We just have to keep up the good play. Were going to have to man-up against first place Cedarcrest.
Lakewood remains one game behind Cedarcrest in the standings.
Andrew Escalante believes the team is up to the challenge.
We started a bit shaky, but once we got used to each other in new spots we started playing well.
Lakewood plays against Cedarcrest April 19 at home.
Lakewood cruises to 3-1 victory