Brock Netter, Staff Writer
LYNCHBURG — There’s certainly no love lost between Lynchburg-Clay and Eastern Brown, especially after the last season’s 2-2 tie.
However, Lynchburg-Clay (8-1, 5-0 SHAC) wanted to prove it’s still the top dog in the league and made its point with a 2-0 victory over the Warriors on Wednesday.
“It’s Eastern, and it doesn’t get any better than beating Eastern,” junior forward Tiah McLean said. “I think the only win that was better was beating them in penalty kicks two years ago. But this win feels amazing.”
Not only does the victory move the Mustangs back to the top of the conference standings, but it also marks a decade of conference dominance.
The last time the Mustangs lost a conference game? Sept. 24, 2010 … to Eastern Brown.
“Our coaches give us a lot of freedom when it comes to practice, but we also take it upon ourselves to do the extra work,” McLean said. “We practice earlier than schools, longer and harder than they do as well, and it’s all with the goal in mind to win a Gold Ball every year and make a long tournament run.”
McLean isn’t asked to do any scoring from her midfield position, but it didn’t stop her from putting one across.
Off a corner kick, the ball ricocheted off the goalie’s hands and landed in front of McLean, who finished with her first goal of the season to put the Mustangs ahead 1-0, less than five minutes into the game.
“Eastern Brown scored in the same way last season and I was supposed to be marking her when it happened,” McLean said. “We told ourselves that it wasn’t going to happen again this year, so it felt pretty good to do the same back to them.”
From that point on, for the remainder of the half, it became a battle of ball possession. Both teams were able to make their advances and string some passes together, but nothing resulted.
As successful as Eastern Brown’s defense was for keeping the Mustangs off the scoreboard again, the Mustangs kept the Warriors off, period.
“We have worked incredibly hard on our ball possession, and making sure we have a lot of movement as well,” Lynchburg-Clay coach Dennis West said. “I learned the hard way years ago when I was coaching boys soccer and we played Zane Trace. Their ball possession was unbelievable, and they wore us completely down. Ever since that day, we’ve hammered home the point of ball possession.”
Although the 1-0 cushion would have been enough for the win, Sierra Benney wasn’t comfortable with it. Following a cross in the box, the ball was blocked by Eastern Brown’s goalie, only for Benney to be in the right spot and kick it, with the back of her heel, across the goal line for the final score of the game.
“I shot it and it ricocheted back, so I went after it,” Benney said. “I was only a couple feet from the goal line and I was thinking in my head that I could back kick it, so I tried it. I just happened to look back and it went it, so it worked out.”
The Mustangs will now look towards a trip to Williamsburg on Saturday while Eastern Brown (9-3, 5-1 SHAC) hosts Clinton-Massie on Thursday.
“This was the first time this season I think we put 80 complete minutes together,” West said. “Our defense was absolutely incredible, and I give our defenders a ton of credit for their effort. We ran Eastern Brown out of gas in the last 15-20 minutes, and I couldn’t be happier with the win.”
Lynchburg-Clay 4, Eastern Brown 2
Boys action started Wednesday’s league doubleheader, and Lynchburg-Clay scored a pair of goals in the first 11 minutes that set the tone.
Hunter Balon connected on a penalty kick for a 1-0 lead just over five minutes into the game. A few minutes later, Harrison Burge found the back of the net off an assist from Kyle Bennington.
In the second half, the Mustangs added another score as Brady Minton stuck one into the back of the net, pushing the lead to 3-0.
However, Eastern Brown had an answer as Andres Vargas found the goal and later gave an assist to Ryan Boone for a goal that cut the lead to 3-2 with less than seven minutes to go.
But in the end, it was the Mustangs’ night as Trey Pitzer connected for the final goal, with 1:20 left, to seal the envelope and the win.
“We did a little too much ball-watching, and we weren’t as sharp defensively as we should have been,” Lynchburg-Clay coach Jason West said. “It’s been a tough stretch not playing games due to the fair break so we’re getting back into the swing of things. But credit to the kids for pulling it together and finishing in the end.”