MIDDLEBURG - It is often said that the best defense is a good offense. Lewisburg proved the theory on Monday night at Sports Boosters Athletic Park in a clash of Heartland Athletic Conference Division I titans.
The Green Dragons dominated Midd-West 3-1 thanks to a relentless attack that had the Mustangs trying to survive on the defensive end instead of thriving on the attack. Unbeaten Lewisburg (6-0-1, 4-0-1 HAC-I) outshot Midd-West 18-3 and held a 7-3 edge in corners.
The Mustangs jumped out to a 1-0 lead shortly after halftime, but quickly surrendered the equalizing and go-ahead goals as the Lewisburg offense finally was too much for the home team to withstand.
Sentinel photo by JOHN?THOMAS
Midd-West’s Tanner Ebright (10)?tries to keep the ball away from Lewisburg’s Nikolas Janesch during their Heartland Conference boys soccer match Monday in Middleburg.
It looked as though the Green Dragons were going to score the opening goal early in the contest. On its first possession of the contest, Lewisburg showed Midd-West (3-4, 2-3 HAC-I) what it would have in store for the next 79 minutes.
Jacob Lightman was left unmarked and received a long pass from the Lewisburg midfield on the right side of the 18 and hit a one-timer toward the cage. The volley beat Midd-West keeper Austin Hockenbrock and hit the crossbar before bouncing out of play.
"I saw that shot coming," Midd-West coach Chris Sauer said. "I thought we were already down 1-0."
IF YOU GO
* Midd-West hosts Mifflinburg Wednesday
Defensive mistakes frustrated the eighth-year coach through the game.
"We were terrible defensively tonight," Sauer stated. "We're definitely not going to win games playing that way."
Hockenbrock made a great save on a blast from close range with 26:39 remaining in the first half to keep the match scoreless. The Green Dragons had some other scoring chances in the half, but none that seriously threatened the Midd-West goal line.
Despite being dominated in time of possession and scoring chances, Midd-West was on the scoreboard first thanks to a beautiful goal by forward Jake Keister five minutes after halftime. After receiving a short pass on a corner, Austin Good played a ball into the box where Keister was waiting. The header beat the keeper to his left for the game's first score.
That would be the final shot the Mustangs would attempt in the match.
"Offensively it was frustrating," Sauer noted. "We have the speed on the outside to do some good things on offense. But tonight we just continuously gave up the ball in the offensive third. Our first touches were terrible. You can't win games playing like we did tonight."
Lewisburg did not take long to score the equalizer. One minute after surrendering the lead, the Green Dragons tied up the score after Udoka Eze was able to collect a loose ball and slide it past the keeper from close range.
"I thought scoring first would have given us energy," Sauer said. "After we scored we sat back."
Lewisburg definitely did not sit back and admire its first goal. Instead, it pressed forward with more intensity looking for the winner.
Hockenbrock pushed another close shot wide with 23:07 remaining. The senior goaltender got his fingertips on the ball to redirect the shot off the post.
Five minutes later, Lewisburg finally broke the tie thanks to a rebound goal by Lightman. The senior midfielder collected the bouncing ball around the penalty spot and was able to slide it into the right side of the cage.
With Midd-West pressing forward desperately trying to produce a game-tying opportunity, Lewisburg put the game away with a quick counter-attack goal by Max Reed off a pass from Lightman with less than a minute left on the clock.