It was a tale of two halves as the Lincolnwood Lancers faced off against the Hillsboro Hiltoppers last Wednesday in Raymond.
The two teams took turns dominating a half when they had the wind to their backs, and struggled to get much going when going against the wind. Both teams also scored on free kicks on the same goal, and the key difference in the game was a shot deflected off a Lancer defender into Lincolnwood’s own net.
The Toppers did not take long to get the ball rolling in the first half, and put on a lot of early pressure while they had the wind backing them.
Just three minutes into the match, Hillsboro junior attacker Ethan Lentz worked past a pair of Lincolnwood defenders before putting a shot over the net. However, Lentz’s efforts would be rewarded just moments later, as he was able to draw a foul just outside the box and casually knock in a goal off the left post to make it an early 1-0.
Hillsboro used this early momentum to their advantage and continued to press the Lincolnwood defense with a barrage of shots. Sophomore Will Christian was able to make a series of nice passes with Lentz and found himself with some space at the top of the box, but was unable to capitalize on the opportunity.
Lentz then had a few chances himself in front of the goal, but was unable to get past the Lincolnwood goalkeeper Will Jenkins, who had a solid first half with a number of athletic saves.
At the 20-minute mark in the first half, Topper junior Kennan Beecher found the ball near midfield and made a run up the field. After a nice give and go and a good fake, Beecher fired a ball towards the Lancer net that actually bounced off a Lincolnwood defender and rolled right into the goal, making it 2-0.
Lincolnwood struggled to get things going in the first half, but came out of halftime with the wind now at their back and with a much more proactive approach.
Lancer attacker Levi Weir got things going early for Lincolnwood with a nice run down the left side of the field that ended with a corner kick.
Although the Lancers were unable to score on that set piece, Lincolnwood was fouled just moments later about 30 yards out from the Topper goal. Weir stepped up to take the free kick and hit an absolute beauty of a free kick into the top corner past the outstretched arms of the Topper goalie to make things 2-1.
From there, Lincolnwood continued to put pressure on the Topper back line, with a number of possessions following where the Lancers would create good looks offensively without being able to finish.
Wyatt Kistner had a big performance off the Lincolnwood bench, with a handful of impressive runs on the right side. On the first big run, Kistner maneuvered past a pair of Topper defenders for a cross that would be saved by the keeper. Just moments later, Kistner had another shot on net that forced a corner kick, before taking another long shot that went just over the crossbar.
As Lincolnwood continued to apply pressure to the Toppers’ one goal lead, the Toppers showed a bend-not-break mentality on defense as they were able to withstand a number of high pressure situations in the box without conceding an equalizer in order to hold onto the 2-1 win.
The win improves Hillsboro to 7-2-1 on the season, and Lincolnwood falls to 2-3 on the season. The Lancers will host Athens on Monday, April 5, while Hillsboro's next game is April 6, at Gillespie.