Clinging to a two-goal lead with just a couple of minutes left to play, Long Reach coach Frank Valenza called a timeout to set up the game plan. He told senior midfielder Daquan Dixon to hold the ball at the edge of the box and run as much time off the clock as possible. Dixon held it for about 30 seconds before he saw an opportunity to score that he couldn’t pass up.
Dixon took his defender one-on-one to the middle of the field and fired a jump shot into the back of the net with 1:49 remaining to help the Lightning pick up their first county win with an 11-8 decision over host Oakland Mills.
“We were going to hold the ball and run out the rest of the time,” Dixon said. “Coach told me hold it and I did but then I saw them pressure me, so I took the shot because it was wide open.”
Dixon and junior attack Brandon Reggie both scored three times for Long Reach (1-2, 1-2). David Fox and Vincent Valenza each added two goals for the Lightning. Valenza’s last score came with 19 seconds left to seal the victory.
Sophomore John Caldwell had a three-goal performance for the Scorpions (0-3, 0-3) and senior midfielder Zach Hensley added a pair of goals.
Long Reach broke a 2-2 tie in the second quarter with back-to-back goals by Vincent Valenza and Dixon. The Lightning were moving the ball efficiently and sneaking in on backside cuts to create easy opportunities.
Reggie scored with 3 minutes, 11 seconds left in the period and Fox found a cutting Konor Kick for another goal right before halftime to give Long Reach a 6-3 advantage.
“For the most part we could have played better because we were sloppy but once our offense started to get going, we started racking up points,” Reggie said. “They were ball watching and that gave us open cuts.”
Caldwell tried to bring the Scorpions back in the third quarter with a pair of goals but Long Reach continued to use its motion offense and unselfish play to hold off the Oakland Mills comeback attempt.
Fox finished in front of the goal on an assist from Valenza and the Lightning had a 9-5 advantage entering the final quarter.
“I thought we were pretty sloppy on clears and rushing the ball but we’ve got a pretty good offense and they took care of it,” coach Frank Valenza said. “We really moved the ball and had a lot of assisted goals, which I strive for our guys to do.”
“We always play tough against Oakland Mills. They have a good team with solid players and a lot of heart. This was a good win.”
The Scorpions weren’t done fighting, however, as they cut their deficit in half with goals by Wyatt Neely and long stick defender Jimmy Riss – who scored on an extra-man opportunity – to make it 9-7 late in the final quarter.
Neeley had a chance to make it a one-score game but Lighting goalie Justin Brown (five saves) stopped a point-blank shot in front of the goal. Then minutes later Dixon scored to help put the game out of reach.
“I thought that the second quarter did us in because of groundballs. When you don’t pick up groundballs you’re not going to have possession,” Oakland Mills coach Matt Hipszer said. “If you don’t have the ball, you’re not going to score and the other team will. It’s as simple as that.”
Long Reach 11, Oakland Mills 8
LR 2 4 3 2 -- 11
OM 2 1 2 3 -- 8
Goals: LR – Reggie 3, Dixon 3, Fox 2, V. Valenza 2, Kick; OM – Caldwell 3, Hensley 2, Farrall, Riss, Neely.
Assists: LR – Fox 2, V. Valenza 2, Oliphant, Lintz; OM – Farrall 2, Caldwell, Riss.