SULTAN — With such a contrast in style between the two halves, the Cougars have to view this loss to the Turks as a cautionary tale.
In a 3-1 conference loss to Sultan April 5, Lakewood couldn’t find the back of the net.
“We had our chances, but we just couldn’t put them in,” said Lakewood manager Bryce Barker.
The lesson became apparent in the first 10 minutes of the second half: Lakewood can’t let its opponent dictate the pace of play.
In the first half, Lakewood let Sultan go unpressured around the midfield and the result was a pair of first half goals for the Turks, and very little production by the Cougars.
“We can’t play that slow style,” said Barker. “Our guys still think that in order to control possession, you have to slow it down, but after that second half, we saw that we are at our best when we’re flying around and pressuring.”
The Cougars played like a completely different team in the second half, switching to a 2-6-2 and owning possession for the majority of the 40 minutes and barraging Sultan with shots.
Lakewood got on the scoreboard in the 70th minute when Jordan Vandelac headed the ball to Brandon Ochoa in the goalie box to finish with his head.
“Brandon put together the best half he’s played this year,” said Barker. “It was nice to see him get everybody involved like that. That’s what we’re hoping for.”
By that point, the score was 3-0, but the Cougars had more than a handful of scoring chances, including three 1-on-1 situations and unmarked shots from inside the penalty area, but most were hit off target.
Lakewood had nine shots in the second half, which was a stark contrast with the first half, where it didn’t have any.
“It really was a tale of two halves for us,” said Barker. “On both sides of the ball.”
Sultan got just one shot off in the second half — which scored — but had seven in the first. Keeper Sam Roe had six saves in the first half.
Scoring the Turks’ goals were Chris Carbajal in the 7th minute and Adrian Cayetano in the 13th minute. Simon Chavez scored in the 64th minute.
The Cougars fell to 2-5 overall and 1-4 in conference play with the loss.
“Last year we had to sweep Sultan and Granite Falls to play some free soccer,” said Barker. “We needed to do the same thing this year, so now we’re going to have to pick up a few wins other places.”