Playing defense

Eastside defender Mason Fritch, right, maintains his position during a Sept. 10 soccer match with Lakeland at Butler.

BUTLER — Playing twice within a week helps you learn more about your opponent.

That’s what Eastside and Lakeland’s soccer teams were facing with a Sept. 10 regular-season meeting and a Northeast Corner Conference tournament match tonight, Sept. 17, at Butler.

The Lakers registered their first win of the season, topping Eastside 5-4 in the Sept. 10 meeting.

“Personally, I think we’re a little bit better than where we were at the start of the season, but the kids’ communication wasn’t there,” said Eastside coach Sal Gomez.

“The first 10 minutes, after that first goal, we settled and we don’t know what’s going on after that. (Lakeland) took advantage of their opportunities and scored all of those goals.

“Communication could have been better,” Gomez said. “The second half, we completely controlled the game and kept them in their own half.

“I think both teams are pretty even,” he said. “They’ve got good players and we’ve got decent players ourselves.”

“We finally finished,” said Lakeland head coach Joe Miller. “Against West Noble, we had like 17 shots and only put one in.

“We got a few more finishes (tonight),” he said. “We’re getting the opportunities; we’re just not putting in the back of the net. We finally got some of that tonight. That was good to see.

“We finally started connecting passes together,” Miller said. “We’ve got a lot of young players, I think 11 freshmen. We’ve got talent on the team. We’ve just got to put it together.”

Eastside got the first goal of the night from Binyam Biddle in the first five minutes of play. Lakeland (1-6 overall, 1-2 in the NECC) got two goals from Hilberto Sanchez and single tallies from Mason Douglas and Isaac Larimer for a 4-1 halftime lead.

It became 5-1 Lakeland when Sanchez completed the hat trick with 31 minutes, 17 seconds left in the match.

The Blazers (2-3 overall, 1-2 in the NECC) got the last three scores to make things interesting.

Just over a minute after Sanchez’s third goal, Eastside’s Zach Northrup took a feed from David Rotz and wired a shot to the top left corner of the goal to make it 5-2.

With 17:05 to play, Nic Blair headed in a corner kick by Binyam Biddle. Northrup struck again with 6:44 left in regulation on a pass from Chayse Hulbert.

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