Clinton welcomed Pender to the Dark Horse Soccer Complex for a Four County Conference match on Monday night. For a while it looked as if an improved Pender squad would make it a match but eventually Clinton’s superior speed and depth took its toll on the Patriots as the Dark Horses ran away with the 8-0 shutout win.
It took the Dark Horses nearly ten minutes to post their first goal as the Patriots turned back several threats in the early going. Finally at the 9:30 mark Ivan Palencia drew first blood off an assist from Andrew Warren. Things quickly picked up for Clinton as Peter Darden gave the Horses a 2-0 lead at 10:19 assisted by Spell Carr. Turner Wells got in the book with an unassisted goal at 12:21 and Andrew Warren scored off an assist from Jared Parker at 18:22 to put Clinton on top 4-0.
It looked as if the Horses would take the 4-0 lead into the half time break but a last second shot by Ivan Palencia bounced off the Pender goal keeper’s leg and right onto the foot of Ivan Ponce. Ponce fired the ball into the back of the Pender net with one second remaining in the half to give the Dark Horses the commanding 5-0 lead at the half.
In the second half the Horses substituted in platoon fashion, swapping 10 players at a time to keep fresh legs in the game for their continual assault on the Pender goal. Clinton got the second half scoring underway at 56:51 when Luke Byrd sent in a short goal, assisted by Ivan Palencia who had driven the ball near the end line before flicking the beautiful pass to a waiting Byrd giving the Horses a 6-0 lead.
The next score came when Ivan Ponce fired a shot that the Pender goalie stopped but was unable to control. A crashing Andrew Warren stormed in and chipped in the loose ball at the 67:15 mark, moving the margin to 7-0. The final goal of the night came at the 69:18 mark when Ivan Ponce got his second score, firing the ball off the right post and into the goal for the final margin of 8-0.
After the game, Clinton head coach Brad Spell was understandably pleased with his team’s performance, saying “I thought we moved the ball really well tonight, the guys are making passes now without even thinking about it, they are extremely unselfish. I thought we played even better in the second half when we went to the ten in, ten out substitution pattern. I told them tonight after the game to enjoy this journey, they are 9-0-1 now, ranked number 1 in the state in one poll and number 2 in another, it is exciting and these guys deserve it, they have worked doggone hard to get to this point.”
Spell continued, adding, “it is good to get the first conference win of the year. Pender has improved and they gave us all we wanted to start tonight, their coaching staff has done a good job and they have a couple of very good players.”
The Dark Horses will host West Bladen on Wednesday evening in Four County Conference play then go back out of conference on Thursday when Smithfield-Selma comes calling for an endowment game.
Photos: DSC_1944 – Ivan Ponce, #14, fires a shot on Pender’s goal during second half action on Mon