Lakeland forks over a victory

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 16, 2005

Suffolk News-Herald

Lakeland’s boys soccer team kept their bit of hope for the district playoffs alive night and ruined King’s Fork’s Senior Night Tuesday with a hard fought 1-0 win.

The lone tally of the Suffolk score came 21 minutes from the end on a Chris Smith 35-yard free kick that found Justin Schleeper in the box.

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Schleeper gathered the long ball and rolled a hard shot at the near post that Bulldog keeper Jeff Gilmet touched, but could not keep out of the back of the net.

Gilmet, Fabius Steinberger, Jonathan Hireser and Steve Ishak were all honored prior to kickoff.

The match opened with Lakeland controlling the run of play in the early minutes.

A point blank Cavalier chance 90 seconds in was called back for offsides, and three Lakeland free kicks in the attacking third all went by the boards in the opening 10 minutes.

The Bulldogs’ first shot of the match came in the 12th minute on a long free kick by Kurt McIntyre.

Ishak nearly came through with a strike from a narrow angle from the far left side of the Cavalier box in the closing minutes of the half, but his shot missed the far post by a couple feet. Lakeland controlled possession and field position for most of the scoreless opening half however, outshooting the Bulldogs 7-3.

The Cavaliers nearly scored in the opening half-minute of the second half as J. T. Sanchez gathered a pass about eight yards from goal, and then turned and got away an off-balance shot that barely missed the far post by inches.

Fork countered in the next few minutes and got a couple flurries of action in the Cavalier box as teams traded chances and traded momentum before the Schleeper strike became the perfect Cavalier tonic.

After a brief Bulldog attack fizzled, Lakeland quickly counterattacked through midfield, forcing a Bulldog foul a few yards off the right sideline about 35 yards from goal. Smith sent the free kick deep toward the far post of the Bulldog goal.

Three Cavaliers waiting there outnumbered the Bulldog defenders.

Schleeper gathered the Smith long ball, slipped it in front of him with his first touch, and then still had time

to find the net.

&uot;It just felt like the opportunity we were waiting for and we needed,&uot; said Schleeper, &uot;it tipped his hand, tipped the post, and went in.&uot;

Gilmet was pulled from his keeper position with 11 minutes to go and put at midfield in an effort to find a tying goal, but it would not be enough, despite the Bulldogs mustering four shots in the last 11 minutes.

With the victory closing their regular season, Lakeland’s district tourney hopes would be settled pending the outcome of Tuesday evening’s Deep Creek/Western Branch match.

Regardless, Lakeland finished their season with an 8-7-0 overall record and 4-4 in the Southeastern District.

The Bulldogs finished their season with a 2-10-1 record.

Over at Lakeland, Nicole Klee had a hat trick and Lindsay Cutchins and Stephanie Owen scored two each as the Lady Cavaliers charged away to a 10-1 victory, making Rachel Davis the first senior of the millennium to win her final game. Ashley Pinzon scored for King’s Fork.