Clinton’s soccer team traveled to Maysville for a pair of matches in the Battle of the Beach Tournament this past weekend. On Friday afternoon, the Dark Horses took on Southwest Onslow, then got an early start on Saturday for a match against Havelock. Clinton returned home with a tie and a win, gaining valuable game experience against quality opponents and showing great improvement over their first outing of the season.
In the opening game, Southwest and Clinton locked up in a defensive struggle for most of the game, playing the entire first half with neither team able to break through with a score.
The Stallions struck early in the second half scoring on a penalty kick on a hand ball in the box to take a 1-0 edge over the Dark Horses. Clinton did not take long to add an equalizer when Spell Carr hammered in his second goal of the young season off an assist from Kelby Moore on a long throw in. The score would remain tied for the remainder of the game and the match ended deadlocked at one goal each. The Clinton defense showed marked improvement standing up to 10 shots on goal and 2 corners with Gray Sutter making 10 saves in goal.
After the game, head coach Brad Spell said, “we really played well on defense tonight. We made great improvements over our first game on Monday, the guys stepped up and played really physically tonight.” Spell continued by saying “while you never can be too happy with a tie we can take a lot of positives away from our performance tonight. Gray Sutter was huge for us tonight, he stopped shot after shot for us. We kicked off at 4 p.m. when it was 94 degrees outside, we played a lot of people and our preseason conditioning was really evident as not one player showed signs of being tired.”
Making an early return to the pitch on Saturday morning at 10 am the Dark Horses faced Havelock in their second match in as many days. Havelock struck in the first minute of the game when they flicked a ball over the top, catching the Dark Horse defense off guard and scoring the first goal of the match. The young Clinton team did not panic, they continued to pick away and eventually scored twice in the first half to take a 2-1 lead into the break. Ivan Palencia scored the first Dark Horse goal off a Zack Darden assist and Luke Byrd added the second goal off an assist from Ivan Palencia.
The second frame was a defensive battle with neither team able to add another goal and Clinton tallied their second win of the season with the comeback victory. After the game, Coach Spell said “we gutted one out today. Our guys did not panic when they scored early, they just continued to play and let the game come to them.”
The win improves the Dark Horses early season record to 2-0-1. Clinton returns home on Monday night for JV and Varsity matches against non-conference foe Dixon. The JV will kickoff at 4:30 with the varsity starting at roughly 6:30.