Lawson Lamm dribbled through the Garner defense without much trouble to tie the score in the 56th minute. And that seemed to turn the tide for Cleveland in their non-conference soccer matchup with Garner on Wednesday night.
Augustine Ibuaka and Tanner Costine each had a goal and an assist, while Josue Perez added the other goal on a Garrett Lee helper, lifting the Rams to a 4-2 win over the Trojans.
Cleveland, of the Two Rivers 3A, improved to 2-1 on the season in three games against 4A opposition.
“It’s a big win for the program,” Cleveland coach Nicholas Gruhn said. “We’re starting to come together a bit more chemistry-wise. We have more depth than we’ve had in the past and we can keep guys fresh more easily.”
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Garner, of the Greater Neuse River 4A, fell to 0-4 against a killer schedule that has included defending 4A Eastern champion Broughton and last year’s state 3A champion, Cardinal Gibbons.
Junior Ayala and Alejandro Carbajal scored for Garner on a free kick and a penalty kick, Ayala tallying his third goal of the season.
“We played last night (in a 4-2 loss to Cary), so it was difficult for us to come back tonight,” new Garner head coach Ben Bondurant said. “We’re young. Hopefully we can pull it together and do better the rest of the season.”
The teams face off again Sept. 2 at Garner.
With 24 minutes to play and the Trojans holding their 2-1 halftime lead, Lamm took a pass from Ibauka just over the center line and dribbled though the defense to score from in the box.
“Augustine just gave me a great ball,” said Lamm, who took stitches from a collision in the season opener against West Johnston and was seeing his first action since. “I wasn’t really supposed to use my head tonight, but I hit it with my knee one time and got out in front of the defenders.”
They said it
“I just kept my composure and confidence and drew the penalty,” Ayala said. “We just need to have confidence in ourselves and not lose our heads when we get scored on. It’s just a slow start. We’ll bounce back.”
Three who mattered
Lawson Lamm, Cleveland: The senior midfielder scored the tying goal to start the Rams’ three-goal spree.
Augustin Ibauka, Cleveland: The senior forward, a native of Nigeria, scored the Rams’ first-half goal from in close and assisted on Lamm’s breakaway.
“It feels great to win this because Garner is such a good team,” said Ibauka, who recorded his second goal of the season. “But it was a tight game.”
Taylor Costine, Cleveland: The senior midfielder assisted on Ibauka’s first-half goal, then scored on a free kick for the final goal in the 69th minute.
By the numbers
3: Points for Costine and Ibuaka in the game.
6: Saves for Garner freshman Lane Perkinson in the first half.
7: Saves for Cleveland goalie Ethan Fellows.
13: Minutes necessary for Cleveland to go from a 2-1 deficit to a 4-2 lead.
45: Points for which Carbajal (23) and Ayala (22) combined last season to finish 1-2 in the GNRC.
Cleveland, whose first six games are against 4A opposition, has four more non-conference matches before visiting Rolesville in its Two Rivers opener on Sept. 10.
Garner has two more non-conference games before visiting GNRC rival East Wake on Sept. 14.