By Jack Reaney EBS STAFF WRITER
The Big Horns netted five goals and their first conference win on Saturday afternoon in an altogether dominant home victory against the Lockwood Lions.
A pair of second-half goals from senior Alex Rager and defensive range from junior Mason Dickerson helped seal the deal. Lone Peak improves to an overall record of 3-4-1, and a conference record of 1-2-1.
The game began with a tilt to Lone Peak, when one Lockwood defender rifled in an own-goal while attempting to clear a cross ball from their defensive zone. Just four scoreless minutes into the first half, the players and crowd reacted in unison with confusion and mild excitement.
Nineteen minutes into the game, senior Max Romney widened the berth to 2-0, adding a goal.
“First goal of the season for me, which is exciting,” Romney said. “It’s really just as easy as finding a corner and passing it in. That’s something we struggle with a lot, we put [our shot] over the top, when we could just place it in the corner.”
Gallatin County soccer fans will not be disappointed by Romney’s talent for monstruous throw-ins; on at least five occasions, Romney connected with junior defender Cash Beattie on one-touch headers inside the 18-yard box. Unfortunately, none found the net today.
“A couple years ago at club I figured out I could throw pretty far,” said Romney. “He’s the best header on the team, so I just try to chuck it in there and see what happens.”
Romney admitted that they’ve only combined for one throw-in-to-header goal during their LPHS career.
With his foot, Romney eventually did feed an assist to Beattie for the Big Horns’ third goal early in the second half. Beattie followed Romney’s example, threading the needle between a defender and the keeper and finding the bottom-right corner.
Less than two minutes later, Alex Rager knocked a knuckleball goal off the right post from 27 yards away. His long-range shot came immediately after what appeared to be a defensive foul inside the box. The whistle didn’t blow, but when Rager’s shot rang off the post into the net, all disputes with the referee were dropped. Rager scored again 20 minutes later, bending the ball across the box to the top right corner from close range.
Head coach Tony Coppola was pleased after a difficult start to the season.
“We’ve been having some personnel issues, but today I felt like we kind of clicked and moved the ball really well,” he said. “We still have some problems finding the net. I know it’s five goals, but it’s the first five goals we’ve scored in the last three games or so.”
The Big Horn defense didn’t face a lot of pressure, as they “parked the bus at half field,” according to Coppola. “It felt good, because that’s been happening to us the last couple of games.”
Romney noted that the Big Horns possessed the ball well.
“We’ve really been working on the attacking third, and I thought that showed today with the five goals,” Romney said. “We played solid defense, had a clean sheet, so I was pretty excited with how we played.”
Junior Beckett Johnson showcased his speed and power, hitting the crossbar twice in the first half from long-range. But Johnson was out of luck on Saturday, with a handful of shots slightly off-mark. He also went down after an awkward tackle in the offensive zone during the second half.
Clutching his left knee in pain, it was a scary moment for the Big Horns. Thankfully, Johnson returned. After the game, Coach Coppola said it was just some leg cramping.
Lone Peak High School Soccer will celebrate Senior Night on Thursday, hosting Laurel High School. Boys will play at 4 p.m., and girls at 6 p.m.
“[Laurel is] definitely a team that we can beat,” said coach Coppola, in reference to their last match; a 2-2 draw when Laurel tied the score with less than a minute remaining.
“It’s another conference game, and if we want to get a playoff berth, we definitely gotta beat ‘em.”