MURRAY — McCracken County struck first on a set-piece to end the first half and never looked back as the Calloway County Lakers soccer team took their second loss of the young season 4-1 last night.
The Lakers had a tough start to the night before the game even got underway as senior Deni Salas injured his quad during warmups and was unable to play past the third minute of the game.
Head coach Evan Pierce said that was a big loss for them, especially in a game that has the kind of electric atmosphere as McCracken versus Calloway typically brings.
“We got off to an unlucky start when one of our senior leaders — and one of our best players — pulled his quad in warmups,” Pierce said. “We were relying on that experience to coming into a big game like this because we were playing at least six freshmen in their first real big varsity atmosphere and several sophomores. They were nervous after having him go out at the beginning, but I was proud of the effort.”
Despite the early loss, the Lakers hung tough against a very experienced and talented team. With just under two minutes left in the first half, the Mustangs got on the board. The cross bounced inside the six-yard box and took a high skip and was finished by what appeared to be a possible handball.
“It was 1-0 at half,” Pierce said. “They scored on a set-piece at the end of the half and we gave up some goals on some issues we know we still need to work on. Overall, I thought our effort was great. I thought our young guys really stepped up.”
McCracken scored again just minutes into the second half but the Lakers had a quick response when Jarrett Darnell received a cross from Bo Stom and finished with a shot to the far post out of the goalies reach.
“Jarrett took it down and calmly finished the goal,” Pierce said. “It was a good build-up. We had some chances in the first half that we should’ve put away.”
The finish was the first of the season for the Lakers and Pierce said they had plenty of chances throughout the game, but the inability to finish plagued them. Meanwhile, the Mustangs scored their third goal on an absolute rocket from 25 yards out. Goalkeeper Landon Houk never had a chance to stop it.
“It could’ve potentially been a bit different at half, but we had confidence at halftime coming back out and their third goal … it was just a heck of a shot,” Pierce said.
One final goal with under 10 minutes to play essentially sealed the win for the Mustangs, but the Lakers will take this game as a learning opportunity as they prepare for their next opponent.
“We’ll watch film and we’ll look at the things we need to improve,” Pierce said. “Our whole goal this season is taking it a game at a time and improving a game at a time and figuring out what we need to work on from this game until we play Tilghman on Tuesday.”