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Prep Soccer: Lecain is steady for North Stafford
BY ADAM HIMMELSBACH
Last season North Stafford goalkeeper Elijah Lecain was called up from the junior varsity team for the Wolverines’ state championship run.
Of course, that essentially just earned him a better view of the action, because he was playing behind Ryan Husted, The Free Lance–Star’s 2011 player of the year.
But Lecain used the time to watch Husted closely. His anticipation. His strength. His speed.
This season, with Husted starting his career at North Florida, Lecain was shuffled into goal for the defending Group AAA state champions.
And in a Commonwealth District quarterfinal against Riverbend on Wednesday night, he took his first turn in the spotlight. The skinny junior made three saves during a penalty kick shootout, as the Wolverines escaped with a 4–3 win after neither team was able to score in regulation or overtime.
“I was just trying to stay focused,” Lecain said. “I didn’t want to let it get to me.”
Both teams converted their first two rounds of penalty kicks, but Riverbend had an opportunity when North Stafford’s third try soared wide right.
Bears midfielder Christian Keilty then ripped a shot to the low right corner, but Lecain leapt and made the save to keep the score tied.
Both teams scored in the fourth round of kicks, and in the fifth and potentially final round, Riverbend goalkeeper Tim Wondree pounced on Ricardo Marcano’s shot, putting the pressure back on North Stafford.
The Bears needed just one goal to take the win, and they sent one of their best players, Jacob Keller, to take the shot. Keller kissed the ball before placing it on the ground. Last Tuesday, he had scored against Lecain on a penalty kick in Riverbend’s 3–0 win over the Wolverines.
As Keller stood over the ball on Wednesday night, North Stafford coach Iric Bressler wanted to yell to his keeper and remind him of that moment. But Lecain needed no assistance.
“I knew where he was going,” he said, “so I stuck with that.”
Keller ripped a left-footed shot down the middle, and Lecain smothered it.
North Stafford’s Adiel Manzano then fired a shot inside the right post to give his team a lead, and Lecain sealed the win with yet another diving save.
“I was on pins and needles,” Bressler said, “but [Lecain] really stepped up.”
After the final save, the North Stafford players swarmed Lecain in front of his goal. The Wolverines had survived for at least one more game. They will face Colonial Forge in a district semifinal on Thursday night.
The match against Riverbend was a high-profile district quarterfinal, a rematch of last season’s Northwest Region title game.
In this meeting, premium scoring chances were few and far between.
Wondree kept Riverbend alive late in regulation, as he leapt and saved a 40-yard rocket by Joey Slye in the 78th minute, and then made a nice sliding tackle on a Manzano breakaway.
But in penalty kicks, Lecain settled in and sent his team to the semifinals.
Adam Himmelsbach: 540/374-5442