EATONTON, Ga. — Lake Country United Football Club’s (LCUFC) 04 Elite boys played up in competition Sunday, taking on an older Athens United 03 Gold boys team. Despite playing up in age and falling behind early, the Lake Country club, formerly known as the Putnam Impact, pulled out an impressive 5-3 win in front of its home crowd.
The match began with the field temperature at a steamy 104 degrees. And within the first six minutes, the team from Athens had scored two goals and it seemed like it might be a long afternoon for the LCUFC supporters. LCUFC then broke their fall with outstanding defensive play from centerback Alan Perez. The offensive opportunities were few in the first half, but in the 31st minute, Jonathan Reid made a perfect pass up the pitch to an overlapping A.J. Jaimes who dribbled toward the goal where the keeper from Athens was coming out to defend. Jaimes made a perfect shot and LCUFC was back in the game. However, Athens responded with another goal three minutes later — this one coming just minutes before the half. It felt like it could have been the dagger through the heart putting Athens up at the half by a score of 3-1.
“In that kind of heat, a lot of teams would have been done at that point — mentally and physically, especially giving up that late goal,” said LCUFC 04 Elite’s head coach Tim Gilbert. “But not this team. We have been through battles like this before over the years, so we were confident that our team’s conditioning would eventually pay off.”
During the halftime break, the teams and the supporters took the time to cool down a bit. The music cranked over the PA and the supporters of both teams flooded the concession stand, while teams huddled in their respective areas to discuss adjustments. Kyle Beasley entered the game in the second half and within minutes he stole a ball off of an Athens United defender and scored LCUFC’s second goal of the game.
“At that point, the momentum of the game seemed to shift in our favor,” said Lake Country assistant coach Jamey Nichols.
The game went back and forth for the next 10 minutes or so, with both teams struggling to maintain possession that led to anything threatening. Then LCUFC began to find success moving the ball through the midfield and switch the point of attack which began leading to opportunities. In the 65th minute of the match, Athens committed a foul inside their own penalty area resulting in two things: the Athens defender receiving a stern warning from the referee about his behavior and a penalty kick being awarded to LCUFC. Tino Reyes stepped up and buried the shot into the back of the net, leveling the score at 3-3. Only 14 minutes plus stoppage time remained.
The successful ball movement from LCUFC continued and just a few minutes later, Reyes made a fantastic pass to a sprinting Jonathan Reid who took two touches and shot the ball into the goal putting the (LCUFC) Impact into the lead for the first time of the day. The team from Athens was completely gassed at that point with about eight minutes to play. Lake Country’s Boys continued to put the pressure on Athens on both sides of the pitch. With only five minutes remaining, Reyes, playing striker, made a steal on an Athens defender, dribbled around the Athens United keeper and simply passed the ball into the goal, thus sealing the victory for the Impact.
“We have learned that we are never out of a game, no matter what the score is, as long as we keep believing in ourselves and each other,” said Jonathan Reid who scored the winning goal as well as made an assist.
“We learned a few things about ourselves today, things we can improve and build upon,” Gilbert stated after the match. “And that’s why we play these types of games prior to going to tournaments. Playing a team older than us, more experienced than us, bigger and maybe even stronger, helps our team get better. We want to play the toughest competition there is in our region if they will play us.”
The LCUFC 04 Elite Boys Team will head to the Nike Select Cup College Showcase Soccer Tournament this weekend where they will face two Classic 1 teams from Gwinnett and one from Atlanta. The College Showcases are where college soccer coaches and staff members typically attend in order to scout soccer players that they can consider recruiting. Soccer coaches from Georgia State University and UNC Asheville, among many others, are expected to be in attendance.