GASTON — The KIPP soccer team controlled play on the field for the majority of Thursday’s game against Gates County, but a slow start and tough finish for the Panthers was more than enough for the visiting Red Barons to leave Gaston with a 4-1 victory.
“We have shown we can play solid in stretches,” KIPP coach Andrew Helms said. “For about 50 minutes we controlled the play on the field and kept the ball at their end, but we couldn’t play consistently for 80 minutes.”
Trailing 2-0 nearly 13 minutes into the contest, KIPP cut the deficit in half with Isaac Miller booting a 45-yard cross toward the left post of Gates County. Hayes Boone got to the loose ball and tapped it into the back of the net.
The Red Barons would get three long-ball chances over the next 40-plus minutes, but Panthers’ keeper Chris Snider was up to the task with some difficult saves to keep his squad within striking distance.
Meanwhile, the KIPP offense kept constant pressure on the Gates County defense, but two shots clinging off the post and one off the crossbar left the Red Barons in front by a goal.
Deon Arlon, of Gates County, scored a crucial goal after getting behind the KIPP defense with 12:30 left in the game and beating Snider in a one-on-one opportunity in front of the net.
Any hope of a KIPP comeback was ended with 4:50 left in the contest when Luke Lolies split the pipes for the Red Barons, pushing the advantage to 4-1.
“We were a little unlucky on their two second-half goals,” Helms said.
The Red Barons appeared to be on the way to a blowout victory early on. L.B. Wolfrey and Arlon scored on breakaways less than four minutes into the game, giving Gates a 2-0 lead.
The Panthers fixed the defensive problems, but the two early scores left KIPP fighting from behind for the rest of the contest. KIPP (3-5) returns to action against Southern Vance at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in Henderson.