High School Boys' Soccer | Kelly's goal lifts Camden to first-round victory over Lakewood


By Mike Wood

Friday, November 8, 2019

CAMDEN — It is never too late to make a strategy change, even two days before your opening round state playoff game.

Camden High School head soccer coach Preston Kuno decided his team needed better defense, and so on Monday of this week they installed a new formation to better protect their own goal. The new scheme worked Wednesday night as the Bruins [11-5-3] defeated Lakewood High School of Roseboro, N.C., by the final score of 1-0 in the first round of the NCHSAA Class 1A State Playoffs at Community Park in Camden.

"We were doing well offensively, but I felt we were giving up too many goals, and needed to make a change," said Kuno. We brought an additional man to the back line giving us four defenders with three midfielders. On Monday we put the system in, and it did not go very well, so on Tuesday we practiced in the rain, and the guys gave everything they had. Lakewood had forwards that were fast and aggressive, and we were able to keep them out of the goal. We got a great effort from everyone tonight."

Lakewood [9-10-1] finished third in the Carolina 1A Conference, and despite the four hour trip, did not seem to have tired legs in the early going. The Leopards seemed to be first to the ball in the 50-50 situations, and had two early shots on goal, one over the net, and the second a routine save for Camden goalkeeper Luke Wiseman. A few minutes later, Lakewood nearly scored on a kick by striker Yovani Rosas. The drive was low and hard to the right corner, but Wiseman dove to his left for the save to keep the match scoreless.

The Bruins gradually found their offensive rhythm, finally getting a shot on goal at around the 25 minute mark. About three minutes later Camden was awarded a dead ball kick from about 20 yards out from the Lakewood goal.

Noah Kelly arched his kick over the wall of Leopard defenders to the top left corner of the goal. The ball hit the crossbar, and the upright post, and then bounced out. Play continued briefly before the officials conferred and agreed it was a goal for the Bruins.

"I was looking top left for my shot," said Kelly. "I saw it hit the triangle in the corner which is a goal even though the ball bounced out."

Lakewood continued their offensive pressure, but the Bruin scheme stopped the Leopards from getting any clean looks. Their best chance came early in the second half when Rosas received a pass down in the box with a Camden defender behind him. The forward rotated to his left and got off a left footed kick, but Wiseman was perfectly positioned to make the save and preserve the Camden advantage.

The second half saw Camden as much more aggressive and first to the ball. Kelly and Max Hosfeld had strong runs at the Lakewood goal as the Bruins kept much of the play in the offensive end.

Seniors Tanner Pippen and Nate Graham were very physical with their tackles and ball control. When play was in the Camden end, the Bruins were able to disrupt passes and clear the ball out.

Coach Kuno could be heard across the whole pitch exhorting his players to "mark your man." "I didn't want them to lose track of their man and leave anyone free. One of the reasons I'm vocal is that we are young on defense. We are playing two freshman, a sophomore, and a junior back there. They did an outstanding job tonight."

Now Camden will make the long road trip on Saturday for a second round game against Hobbton High School in Newton Grove, N.C.

The Wildcats were undefeated in the Carolina Conference and have an overall record of 19-2-1.