LYNCHBURG – While not the most ideal of course, a tie is absolutely better than a loss.
The visiting South Webster Jeeps, minus what turned out to be two key players on Saturday, battled the Lynchburg-Clay Mustangs to a 1-1 draw in a non-league boys soccer tilt.
The tie was the Jeeps’ first of the season, as their record is now 9-3-1.
They almost earned the win, though, scoring just eight minutes and 20 seconds into the second half.
South Webster was already playing without senior starter Gabe Ruth due to an ankle injury suffered in the Jeeps’ victory at Valley on Thursday, then had to play without Tryston Robinson on Saturday – after he injured his knee in warmups.
Despite the late lineup shakeup, making due without the two and hanging in throughout, the Jeeps allowed an equalizing goal with just 19 minutes and 20 seconds remaining.
It was a scoreless first half, as South Webster went ahead with 32 minutes left on a goal by Trae Zimmerman off a Gavin Bennett assist.
Bennett played the ball up over the defense, and Zimmerman beat Lynchburg-Clay goalkeeper Gavin Stroop low and left for the goal.
But the Mustangs made it 1-1 by getting the tying marker following a stretch of four corner kicks, as the Jeeps made an initial clear – but Hunter Balon beat Jeep keeper Jaren Lower on the right side with a follow-up shot.
According to South Webster coach Corey Claxon, Balon’s shot was just barely out of Lower’s reach.
The final half of the second half was also scoreless, as the entire match was dominated by defense.
The Mustangs outshot the Jeeps 6-5, as Zimmerman’s attempt was South Webster’s only shot on goal.
Zimmerman and Bennett took two shots apiece for the Jeeps, as the Mustangs had four as a team – with individual on-goal shots by Balon and Connor Tyree.
Lower made three saves for South Webster, which had just two corner kicks compared to the four for the Mustangs.
“The result of this one was a pretty fair assessment of how the game went. I don’t think we played our best, but missing two key players really does make a difference in a game, but we switched guys around to cover,” said Claxon. “Our defense played fairly well today, but we still need to tighten things up a bit on both ends of the field.”
The Jeeps, which trail Southern Ohio Conference Division II co-leaders Wheelersburg and Minford by a game in the loss column, travel to Minford on Thursday for that critical conference clash.
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