The Upson-Lee Knights entered Wednesday night’s match up with Griffin, looking to move their record to 3-0, but more importantly looking for a 1-0 record in the region.
This was the first region game for both teams, and as the game began, it looked as if the Knights might cruise to a victory. UL sophomore Dylan Marshall scored off a ricochet at the 33:29 mark of the first half. Marshall’s fourth goal of the season, sailed just over the outstretched hands of the Griffin keeper. However, after the fast start, the Knights had trouble getting the types of looks they wanted out of their offensive sets. Griffin scored their lone goal of regulation with 17:37 left in the first half. After sending the ball deep into UL territory, two Bears collided with two UL defenders, and the ball trickled into the Knights goal. The two teams entered the halftime all knotted up 1-1.
“I really felt like we struggled to work together tonight,” said UL head coach Matt Bentley. “We have got to do a better job of working together. There were some scoring opportunities out there in the first half, we just did not capitalize on them. Overall, it wasn’t a very good half of soccer for us.”
In the second half the Knights began to move the ball deep into Bear territory with more regularity, but that did not equal more goals. The Knights missed a few shots just wide and just over the goal. Griffin never really threatened until late in the half, and that’s when the Knights keeper Will Eubanks saved the day. According to Bentley, Eubanks played one his best games.
“Will really came through tonight for us,” said Bentley. “I thought he really played well and he saved us a couple of times in the second half. He had a really good game.”
After two five-minute overtime periods, the two teams still were tied 1-1, with penalty kicks to come. The Knights made four penalty kicks to the Bears’ three penalty kicks. Dylan Marshall booted the first kick for the Knights, followed by Joey Knight. Then Turner Price stepped up and delivered a kick past the keeper, and Cole Winters finished off the Bears with his penalty kick.
“We did not play our best tonight,” said Bentley, “but we got the win. That’s the most important thing. We will get back to work tomorrow and prepare for Fayette County on Saturday. They will be a good test for us.”
The Knights will face off with the Tigers from Fayette County in the Championship Game of the Lamar County Trojan Cup Invitational. UL lost last season to Fayette County by a 3-2 score, and suffered a controversial defeat to Fayette County the year before in a 2-1 contest.
Game time for Saturday’s Championship Game is slated for 4 p.m. in Barnesville.