Lakewood and Union went at it on the soccer field Wednesday afternoon in the last regular season game for the Spartans, who took the match 4-1.
It wasn’t what Union coach David Ameen would call a runaway, though. The coach praised Lakewood for its fight, saying the Leopards never quit as the Spartans tried to work their way from a 1-0 halftime deficit to get the win.
“Lakewood’s effort was stellar,” Ameen said. “They were aggressive and got to every ball.”
Trailing 1-0 at the half, Ameen said he went into the locker room with his boys and laid it out for them. “I told them that this was it, that they were looking at their last home game and how it ended would be up to them, that it was going to be what they made of it.”
Their coach’s words were exactly what it took to ignite Union. When they returned to the field, they found the net four times at about 10-minute intervals to take the win.
Leopard coach Jay Faircloth tipped his hat to Union for their intensity in the second half. “It was kind of like deja vu. It looked like the last time we played them. We played hard but Union’s got a good squad and when they came back from the half, they were fired up.”
Faircloth said his team played hard, too, never giving up. “That’s all I can ask for as a coach, that they work hard and never quit.”
Lakewood got on the board first when Manny Viruet hit the back of the net. “We had some amazing opportunities in the first half, but we were never able to capitalize on them,” Faircloth said.
In the second half, it was all Union, as they found their way to a goal time after time.
“We were able to take the game back, but Lakewood kept at us. They battled hard the whole game,” Ameen said.
But Union had found the spark it needed.
The first two goals came off the foot of Gerardo Barrera; the third was scored by Yoni Martinez and the final score, off a Lakewood throw-in from the sidelines, came from Kenneth Santana.
The win moves Union to 9-6-2 overall and 8-6 in the conference. They await word on who they’ll play in the opening round of the playoffs next week.
Lakewood returns to the field Thursday for a makeup game with Trask.