Warriors early tally is the difference

Staff photo by Rodney Lopez

North Knox's Conner Hartzburg (11) sends in a crossing pass as Lincoln's Hunter Grostefon defends at the Warriors' pitch on Monday. North Knox topped the Alices, 3-2.

North Knox holds off Lincoln, 3-2

BICKNELL — Lincoln's boys soccer team has made a habit recently of getting behind early in matches, and North Knox was happy to help continue that trend on Monday.

Conner Hartzburg found the net barely over a minute into the contest, and it ultimately proved to be the difference as the Warriors held off the visiting Alices, 3-2.

Gage French added the other two North Knox goals, and Hartzburg assisted on one of them. For Lincoln, Ethan Blair scored on a Jonathan Soderling corner kick, and Dagen Parido scored unassisted in the 68th minute to make the Warriors sweat out the final 11:41 with a one-goal lead.

It was the fourth straight positive decision for North Knox (3-5-1) after losing its first five, while the Alices (2-5) are heading the opposite direction with their fifth straight defeat.

“It was a good win. The kids played well,” North Knox coach Robert Cullen said. “We had the opportunity to play Vincennes, and that's always a good opportunity for us to see where we stand. Gage got those two goals, and (Hartzburg's) early goal, that kind of got some momentum for us and helped us play a little bit.”

North Knox carried a 2-0 lead at halftime, and Cole Jones nearly made it a three-goal margin in the 42nd minute when his header off a Todd Wolfe cross went off the post. Five minutes later, the Alices tallied with Blair's header off Soderling's corner. But the Warriors responded immediately when Hartzburg assisted French's second goal within 43 seconds to make it 3-1.

The first 20 minutes of the second half were mostly even, but Lincoln pushed the pace over the final quarter of the match. The Alices were rewarded when Parido took advantage of a North Knox miscommunication and made it a 3-2 deficit.

Lincoln's final chance to tie came off a corner kick with 2:30 remaining when the Warriors' clearance attempt landed at the feet of Lincoln's Ashtin Russell, and he drilled a shot from about 35 yards just a few feet over the crossbar.

North Knox keeper Dennis Stalcup managed six saves.

“Conner played really well. He's a quick kid, and he has good touch on the ball,” Cullen said. “Gage played better, getting those two goals, and that's good for him. Our back side was good, led by Isaiah Mackey, and Dennis did a good job keeping things in line as the keeper. Cole did a good job running the midfield.”

Hartzburg set the tone early when Lincoln turned it over in its defensive zone, and Hartzburg slipped one past the keeper Soderling with 38:50 showing. The Alices controlled possession for most of the the first half, though the shot opportunities were nearly equal. French stretched the margin to 2-0 with 12:45 left in the half on an unassisted direct shot from just outside the box that nicked the bottom of the crossbar and continued into the net.

Lucas Hunt replaced Soderling in goal late in the first half, allowing Soderling to aid the offense. The pair combined for 14 saves.

“This kind of seems to be the tale of our season. We get down early, and in the game of soccer, it's really hard to come back from a deficit,” Alices coach Aaron Lange said. “Three of our last four games we got down 2-0, and we end up losing by one. We have the ability to move it up and down the field, and we have the ability to make goals. But we get down early because we come out flat, and that's been the difference the last four games.

“I liked the way Dagen crashed the goal, and Jonathan had some good corners and good crosses after we pulled him out of goalie. He showed that maybe he deserves to be in the field.”

The Alices host Jasper at 5:30 p.m. today, while North Knox visits Rivet at 5 p.m. Sept. 17.

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