The Lakewood Leopards played host to the North Duplin Rebels on Wednesday night, but were defeated handily. Lakewood entered the game with a perfect 6-0 record, but the boys in green ended that flawless record with a solid 7-4 win over the Leopards.
North Duplin benefited off of a marvelous game by both Henry Silva and Juan Garcia, but there is no denying that the whole team played well. The Rebels man-handled Lakewood in the first half, restricting the Leopards’ high-powered attack to just one goal. Lakewood was unable to capitalize on their opportunities. The Leopards could have been the first team up on the board Wednesday night, but a header by Lakewood bounced off the crossbar.
Instead, the Rebels grabbed the lead first with a beautiful shot by Ronaldo Castaneda with around 30 minutes remaining in the first half and would not look back. In fact, North Duplin would led 7-1 at one point.
But even down six, Jay Faircloth’s Leopards continued to fight and never gave up, something he was sure to note.
“Even when we were down 3-1 at half, they continued to work and I think that really shows the character of our team and how good they are for not quitting,” Faircloth said.
Faircloth told his team at halftime that they can easily come back from a 3-1 deficit, and his team responded well, although it was too little, too late. The Leopards scored three more goals in the second half, but North Duplin pulled away to take a 7-4 conference win.
The game became very contentious and remained that way throughout the whole game, which led to several yellow cards and a player even getting ejected. Faircloth says that his team is known for being aggressive, but he admitted that the Leopards may have been too aggressive.
The game drew a large crowd, and even Lakewood head football coach James Lewis, currently on a three-game winning streak, came out to support the Leopards.
North Duplin currently holds a 3-2-1 overall record and 2-0 conference record, and will play host to Spring Creek on Monday. Lakewood, on the other hand, will try to get back on track with a trip to Neuse Charter, a team holding a 0-3 record, on Monday, as well. Lakewood is 1-1 in conference play.