HARRODSBURG – The Lincoln County boys soccer team knows the importance of a fast start. And a team can’t start much faster than the Patriots did Tuesday night.
Lincoln’s first rush down the field resulted in a goal just 31 seconds into the game. And the Patriots went on to score three more unanswered goals as they ousted Somerset 5-1 in the 12th Region Tournament quarterfinal round at Mercer County.
“I think that kind of shocked them,” Lincoln goalkeeper Ian Blevins said of the quick point. “I think we kind of let them know that we’re in charge by scoring that fast.”
Lincoln coach Chaz Garcia agreed that the quick goal was a key factor in the regional win, the first ever in the history of Patriot soccer.
“Any time you score like that, you just put yourself in a really good position,”¿he said. “We’re playing now to stay ahead and they’re trying to get back in the game. That’s crucial for anybody.”
Carl-Lewis Cummins converted on the goal after a Lincoln throw in, taking the pass and dribbling it in front of goal for the quick kick and a 1-0 Patriot lead.
And Lincoln (12-6-0) never looked back.
“They really wanted this,” Garcia said. “I think losing our Senior Night and then turning around and losing in the district championship ... they’re just hungry. I think, if we keep playing like this, we’ll put up a good fight all the way to the end. They’re hungry and they want it.”
While Lincoln never relinquished its lead, Somerset (10-8-2) didn’t go down without a fight. The Briar Jumpers played keep away after the opening goal, and pounded in the shots on Blevins throughout the first half. Somerset got six of its total eight shots on goal in the period.
“They pounded and pounded. They didn’t stop their fight, at all. They kept on going,” said Garcia.
Blevins, who had seven saves for the game, notched five saves in the first half as Somerset kept him on alert.
“We had a little bit of a struggle possessing the ball after the goal and they took some good shots,” Blevins said. “They had a lot of break-aways, but I just did what I know how to do – stop the shots.”
Garcia realizes just how important it was for Blevins to “stop the shots.”
“He’s really come along. He’s made some remarkable saves for us,”¿Garcia said. “Boyle County, he had a huge game there. We did lose that game, but he had some really big time saves. Tonight, again, big time saves. All it takes is that one big save. If they score, that could completely turn the game around.”
“By him keeping that from happening, you know, (game’s) still going our way and the flow stayed with us.”
Blevins did leave the game with a knee injury midway of the first half after being run over by a charging Somerset player, but he wasn’t sidelined for long.
“It wasn’t really anything,” said Blevins. “I knew it was just one of those ‘go out and check it, and come back in.’’
Lincoln, which outshot Somerset 21-8, did start to control the ball in the first half and take the pressure off Blevins, getting 10 shots on goal before halftime.
And two more goals were the result.
Carter Dunn scored on a breakaway with 12:15 to go in the first half to make it a 2-0 ball game.
The margin was 3-0 at the break, with Blake Henderson punching in a shot on Somerset goalkeeper Brandon Patterson with 6:42 to go. Henderson fielded a pass from the left wing, centered the ball then booted it into the back of the net.
Cummins came through with his second goal of the game early in the second half. Jake Dunn passed the ball in from the right corner to a charging Cummins who boomed in the shot to extend Lincoln’s lead to 4-0 just 7 minutes into the half.
Somerset was finally able to interrupt Lincoln’s scoring run as the clock ticked under 5 minutes, with Nick Henry getting a shot past Blevins to deny Lincoln the shutout.
“I don’t know what happened at the end there. I really don’t,” Garcia said. “I guess we just had a miscommunication, and they got one in. Kind of feel bad for them because we’ve really been harping about getting a shutout, keeping it clean.”
Somerset would be held to the one goal, but Lincoln would score one more time. Carter Dunn got to go one-on-one with Patterson on the penalty kick after Somerset was whistled for a push in the goal box. Dunn’s low kick to the left corner went untouched.
Tuesday’s win set Lincoln up for a rematch with West Jessamine. The Colts (13-10-1) defeated Lincoln 6-3 in the Berea Cup during the regular season, but the Patriots were short some players due to injury and eligibility. In Wednesday night’s semifinal game, Garcia expects a different Lincoln team.
“With our flow the way it is right now, having our guys the way we have them, I would say we are definitely going to come out ... West Jessamine’s going to have to really play their hearts out to beat us tomorrow,” he said.
Results from Wednesday night’s Lincoln-West Jessamine game were unavailable at press time.