Linoclnview’s Austin Leeth (left) and Van Wert’s Dan Thompson (right) fight for posession of the ball while Van Wert keeper A.J. Smith (middle) watches on in a game at Van Wert Tuesday. The game ended in a 3-3 tie. (Times Bulletin/Brian Bassett)
BY BRIAN BASSETT
Times Bulletin Sports Editor
VAN WERT - The Lincolnview Lancer boys soccer team traveled to Van Wert Tuesday evening to renew its non-conference, cross-county rivalry with the Van Wert Cougars. The teams battled each other, and the elements, en route to a 3-3 tie.
The Lancers jumped out to a 3-0 lead early in the second half, but Van Wert stormed back with three unanswered goals to tie the match late.
"We had a great first half, and a not-so-great second half," said Lincolnview coach Mark McCleery. "I think we just ran out of gas, I didn't do much subbing. I only subbed my outside-mids, I kind of ran my mids to death. (The kids) played hard - good tough game."
Cougar coach George Scott also noted the differences in halves. "It was kind of horrible at the beginning, then it got fun at the end. We would have liked to have won, but we'll take a tie at this point."
Lincolnview got on the board first in the first half, when senior forward Nick Leeth got a goal past Van Wert senior keeper A.J. Smith to give Lincolnview an early 1-0 advantage.
Play then slowed down and both teams battled to control the ball in the soggy conditions. The Cougars got corner kicks at the 8:00 and 7:45 marks, but could convert on neither as the Lancer defense held.
Lincolnview answered with a line-shot from 40 yards out off the foot of senior forward Kade Carey which found the goal to give Lincolnview a 2-0 lead.
Van Wert senior forward Joey Hurless was awarded a free kick at the 3:31 mark from 40 yards out. He hit a shot which looked good off the foot, but Lincolnview senior keeper Mark Evans came through with a save.
Van Wert got a few good looks on the goal in the waining moments of the first half, but couldn't convert, and the game went to the half with Lincolnview leading 2-0.
The Lancers struck again to open the second period. Junior midfielder Dalton Kayser took a free kick from near midfield with 35:49 to play. Kayser's shot found Austin Leeth, who put the shot in on a header from short range. The Austin Leeth goal gave the Lancers a 3-0 lead, and seemingly control of the game.
Van Wert finally got on the board just over two minutes later, when senior forward Caleb Markward found Evans out of position and slipped in a goal behind him. The score made the score 3-1 with 33:45 to play in the game.
The Cougar comeback continued later in the period, when senior midfielder Jon Lisa took a corner kick and found Markward, who notched a header into the net to cut the Van Wert deficit to one with 22:42 to play.
Finally, with 17:28 to play in the match, Markward finished his hat-trick and tied the game with a seven-yard goal.
"It was fantastic," Scott said of the game Markward played. "You talk about a guy who wants to win - he wants to win. He and Joey Hurless work fantastic together. One is usually supporting the other. When Joey has had his hat-tricks, Caleb has been the guy getting him the ball. Today Caleb had the hat-trick, and it was Joey who was right there feeding him the ball."
Four minutes later, the Lancers got a corner kick, and Carey managed a header which just missed the goal. Markward then tried for his fourth goal, with 13:17 to play, but Evan came away with a save.
The Lancers got consecutive corner kicks with 11:22 and 11:00 to play, but could convert on neither, as both offenses stalled.
With time winding down, Hurless got a yellow card at the five minute mark of the game. The penalty could have been crucial, but the Lancers couldn't convert in Hurless' short absence from the field. Lisa got a pair of shots-on-goal, with 3:23 and 1:00 to play respectively, but Evans saved both.
The final real scoring opportunity for either team came with 11 seconds to play, when Nick Leeth fired a desperation shot. The shot was on-goal, but saved by Smith to preserve the tie.
The tie drops Van Wert to 2-9-1 on the season.
Lincolnview suffers its third consecutive tie, but McCleery is happy at where his team stands thus far into the season. "Coming off this game, I think there are a lot of positive things (about this team). We've kind of been in a slump, although we tied Woodlan, which is a really nice team.
"We tied Eastbrook, which is a big school - then we tied Van Wert. Our schedule this year is a lot better than last year, and we've played better. Our record doesn't show it because our competition is better. I'm pleased with the way we've played."