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Lions second-half roar quiets Tigers
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Alcovy's Johvaughn Destin forced a Luella midfielder to the sideline in an attempt to steal the ball in the Tigers' 5-1 loss to the Lions Thursday night. - photo by Matt Smith

After an even first half, the Alcovy boys soccer team’s night ended with a whimper Thursday night against Luella, falling 5-1 to the Lions while giving up four second-half goals.

The Tigers’ Colin Williams lifted the Tigers with a first half goal that sent Alcovy into the break tied 1-1 with the Lions, but Luella poured on the goals in the second half, including a pair in the final five minutes, that handed Alcovy its first loss in Region 2-AAAAAA.

Alcovy coach Chris Edgar implored his plays to stay strong in the second half after the break, but in the final minutes Luella’s offensive fire power proved too much for the Tigers, as Alcovy struggled to find its offensive rhythm in the final 40 minutes of play.

“They were much more effective in the second half for the same reasons other teams have been all season – our mistakes,” Edgar said. “I thought we played hard and we played well, but we just made some mental mistakes. We continue to make those mistakes that help a good team out. That’s not going to end up going well for us.”

With the game knotted 1-1 at halftime, it was the Tigers who had the opportunity to strike first coming out of the break, but an offensive push from Johvaughn Destin that ended with a shot from Justin Adair missed its mark wide left, ending Alcovy’s early threat.

The Lions responded two minutes later at the 34:42 mark when Trey French netted Luella’s second goal of the game off a feed from Kelob Branch. Branch lifted the ball over the Tigers’ defense and French had a one-on-one opportunity with the Tigers’ keeper, tapping the ball into the left corner for the go-ahead goal.

With the Lions leading, Luella wasn’t ready to rest on its laurels just yet, adding to its lead a minute later on a frenzied play in front of the Tigers’ net.

Luella’s Giancarlo Malerba sent a free kick from 30-yards out into the penalty box and after bouncing around twice inside the box, Branch got into the score action, following up the bounce with a shot that found its way into the back of the net. Branch’s goal extended Luella’s advantage to 3-1 with 33:23 remaining, but the scoring wasn’t over yet.

The Lions were able to battle through four offside penalties in the second half and 13 saves from Alcovy’s Paul Rothe in the net, and with 4:23 remaining, Branch found the back of the net again for his second goal of the game. Four minutes later the Lions’ Sebastian Santander added Luella’s fourth goal of the half, tapping a shot by Rothe for the 5-1 final.

Edgar said that even though the Tigers gave up four second-half goals, Rothe and his defense had a lot to be proud of.

“He has been such a joy to coach,” Edgar said. “He hasn’t played much soccer – he’s actually a handball player from Germany – but he just has really natural instincts and is a great athlete. He did a great job tonight in the goal, despite the score. The guys did come out tonight and fight hard after getting embarrassed earlier this week and we were right there with them for most of the game. We just have to sure some things up and stop making those mental errors.”

With Luella holding a 1-0 lead in the first half, Williams pulled the momentum back in Alcovy’s favor just before the break, tying the game with 3:33 left in the opening period.

Houston Kent started the scoring run up the Tigers’ right sideline, feeing Williams in the center of the pitch. Williams’ took the pass and sent a curving shot that started to the left of the goal before dipping into the right corner, evening the game with the strike from 18 yards out.

Luella struck first in the game with a Tristan Turpin goal. Turpin scored on a feed from French, going unhindered to the goal down the center of the field with 15 minutes gone in the quarter.

With the loss, Alcovy drops to 2-7 overall and 2-1 in region play. The Tigers will have a chance to rebound Tuesday at home against Locust Grove at 7:30 p.m.