Viking Boys Continue Turnaround
The Union Pines boys’ soccer team closed out its regular season with a 5-0 league win Wednesday against Westover on senior night at Woodrow Wilhoit Stadium in Cameron.
Vike seniors Austin Beers, Evan Lindsay, Michael Lindsay, Tanner Mahood, Chris Thao and T.K. Rivers were recognized during a halftime ceremony near midfield.
With the victory, Union Pines improved to 9-8-1 on the season and finished third in the CFVC standings with a league mark of 8-4.
After a 1-4 start under new head coach Mike Mibb, the Vikings later suffered a three-game league-losing skid as they fell to 2-3 in CFVC play and 3-7-1 overall. From that point on, Union Pines went 6-1 to close the season with a renewed sense of pride and belief in their abilities as a team.
Mibb pointed to his group of seniors as the main reason behind the Vikings’ mid-season turnaround.
“These seniors have provided this team with direction, in the sense that they helped us pick up the passing game as a team,” said Mibb. “They worked hard to understand the importance that on-the-field aspect has on our success and reinforced it both at practice and during games. Each of them also delivered consistent leadership and the type of competitive spirit we needed to move forward.”
It was Michael Lindsay who got Union Pines going Wednesday with an early goal. The co-captain scored on a breakaway in the seventh minute to put his team in front 1-0. Junior P.J. Schmittdiel also scored in the frame, with a rare goal on a corner kick. The perfectly placed ball from the left corner gave the home squad a 2-0 lead, which they carried into intermission.
After the match Michael Lindsay discussed his feelings, having just played his last home match in his three-year career at Wilhoit Stadium.
“It is a great feeling to know we finished strong for our last season,” he said. “I think we really came together as a team in the second half of the year. Everyone on this team has given 100 percent. We all had the desire to get better. So no one person deserves more credit than any other — we did it as a team.”
After the halftime festivities concluded, the Vikings scored two goals in the opening 10 minutes of the second half to build a commanding 4-0 lead.
Evan Lindsay struck first when he made a nice touch on a throw-in by Mahood. After one more touch he headed the ball forward to beat a Wolverine midfielder down the left side, before cutting toward the box. Once in front of the goal, he powered home a shot that beat the keeper and two fullbacks to push the lead to 3-0 in the 41st minute.
Michael Lindsay initiated Union Pines’ next goal when he stole a ball from a Wolverine midfielder, dribbled into space, and sent a cross on goal. Rafael Pastrana was there to volley the pass into the back of the net for a goal that made the margin 4-0 in favor of the home team.
Union Pines’ final score came on Evan Lindsay’s second goal of the game. The two-year captain made a great first touch on a pass from Adam Howard, before fighting his way into the box and unleashing a laser in the 63rd minute.
At the post-game senior pizza party, Evan Lindsay spoke about the ups-and-downs he has experienced over his four-year Viking career.
“After the way we started this season, it is an awesome feeling to know we put it all together down the stretch,” said Lindsay. “Tonight was a great way to close out the regular season. Going forward we just need to get our heads right and try to pull out a playoff win.”
The Vikes’ last postseason win came under head coach Jeremy Blake, when Union Pines reached the third round in 2008.
Evan Lindsay was a major contributor on that team during his freshman season to help Union Pines finish 17-6-2.
Up next for Union Pines is a first-round state 3-A playoff match against South Brunswick (6-8-1), the second seed from the Waccamaw Conference. The match is tentatively scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Southport.
Contact F.W. Manning II at firstname.lastname@example.org
More like this story