With a lot to prove and the adrenaline pumping, the Indian Land Warriors prepared for their soccer game against Buford.
"Neither the team, nor myself want to settle for an average season," said head coach Adam Cole. "The guys were pumped for this game."
After somewhat of a slow start, the Warriors were the first to score. And by the end of the first half, the Warriors led 2-0.
"Alfredo Lavieri opened the field up," Cole said. "He has great vision. Most of our goals were scored off of his great passes. Guys were working together and talking. We have come a long way since the beginning of the year."
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From the start of the second half, the team proved that they "were hungry that night for more," Cole said.
They quickly nailed in another two goals, leading Buford with a 4-0 lead.
"Our defense was a brick wall to start the game, nothing could get by and those that did met our keeper Patrick Sweatt," Cole said.
But Buford would prove that they had not bitten the dust just yet. It was after those two goals that Buford had begun to figure out the Warriors' defense and countered it.
"It was a suspenseful and exciting game to watch," Cole said.
Buford continued to capitalize on its knowledge of the Warrior defense, and continued to prove it by knocking more goals in.
"The score was 6-5 at one point with time ready to expire (or supposed to expire)," Cole said.
Including added time, the half calculated out to be 56 minutes (40 minute regulation and 16 minutes added). The added time, the referees would later explain, was because of "how slow the ball boys were."
"I have never heard of such a thing," Cole said. "But that's home field advantage for you. I have never yelled so much in my life, at the refs or out of sheer excitement, this game was intense."
In spite of "thirst, exhaustion, physical play, extra time and the 'home field advantage,' the Warriors played over 90 minutes of soccer, which is the same length of time for professional leagues. The Warriors 16-man army went up against Buford's "24-man squad" and finished on top.
Anthony Sweatt put the nail in the coffin by scoring the final goal which made the score 7-5.
"I lost count of how many saves he made or plays he broke up," Cole said. "He plays with great intensity and seems to be fearless in the net. He has great potential to be a big time player at a big time school one day."
Goal scorers for the game were Emmanuel Mata with one goal, Luke Lambert with two goals, Stefano Sojo with two goals and Anthony Sweatt with two goals. Lambert had one assist, Sojo also had one assist, Alfredo Lavieri had three assists and Marco Mata had one assist.
"We passed the ball beautifully. I cannot express how proud I am of the guys," Cole said.
• March 25 vs. Andrew Jackson, 7:30 p.m.
• March 26 vs. Buford, 6:30 p.m.
• April 1 vs. Westminster Catawba, 6:30 p.m.