Programs close battle shows progress

Published 10:18 am Friday, December 8, 2023

WEST LINCOLN — Frigid temperatures could not slow down West Lincoln or Bogue Chitto in a six goal thriller Thursday night. Bogue Chitto won the boys match 4-2 but they trailed West Lincoln twice in the district match. 

The tight match is a testament to the growth of the two programs. While the team’s touches, passes and shape are still improving it was an evenly matched game which flowed like a soccer match, rather than kick and chase. 

For 36 minutes the Bogue Chitto Bobcats and West Lincoln Bears were locked in a scoreless battle at midfield. An occasional breakaway might allow for a goal but no one could find the back of the net. 

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West Lincoln’s Gabe Gennaro broke the deadlock when his side were awarded a penalty kick with 3:45 left in the first half. The junior stepped up to the penalty spot as the stands went silent, amplifying the tension. 

“I knew I was going to make it. I did what I always do and I didn’t feel any pressure,” Gennaro said. 

He calmly fired his penalty kick into the right corner at about chest high. It was the perfect penalty and practically unsavable to the keeper. West Lincoln’s fans erupted in celebration. 

The cheers from West Lincoln fell silent 11 minutes into the second half. Bogue Chitto senior Blake Smithers had the ball at his feet on a breakaway when he fired a shot on goal. It swerved past the keeper and into the back of the net as Bogue Chitto’s fans erupted with applause. 

Three minutes later, Gabe Gennaro returned the favor and put the Bears back in front with a goal as he danced around the keeper and fired a shot home. West Lincoln led Bogue Chitto 2-1 with 26 minutes left. 

“It felt good to get another goal,” Gennaro said. 

The celebrations were short lived when Bogue Chitto senior Andrew Merrell stepped up to take a freekick 50 yards out from goal. Merrell hit the perfect shot and West Lincoln defenders watched in horror as the ball dipped beneath the cross bar and in for a goal. Bogue Chitto was back on even terms at 2-2 with 19 minutes left. 

Merrell would score on a breakaway opportunity 10 minutes later to put Bogue Chitto up 3-2. West Lincoln tried to push for a tying goal with limited time when Bogue Chitto’s Ja’lein Powell scored a goal to secure the match for the Bobcats with 4:04 left in the second half. 

The win moves Bogue Chitto to 1-9 and 1-3 in district play while West Lincoln falls to 0-7 overall and 0-2 in district play. 

Gennaro said the Bears need to keep playing aggressive and convert the scoring chances they get. He added the squad has to work to get better technically each day as many of them are still new to soccer. The same could apply to Bogue Chitto. 

West Lincoln head coach Dane Hodges can see the progress and believes it will bear fruit eventually. 

“We haven’t been able to come out with a win but there has been a big transition in being more technical and being defensive. We are learning to play the right way and getting better,” Hodges said. “As we get better at the game the wins will come. We are working to get there. Both teams have the right attitude and are building towards playing good soccer. Both of these programs have come a long way. It is good for our area and brings interest for soccer. It is good to see as we all get better.”