HOWARD — After cruising through the first part of its schedule, East Knox soccer coach Geoff Green knew that Heath would be a tough test for his Bulldogs.
The team passed with flying colors.
East Knox played solid all around and got a goal from a freshman in beating the visiting Bulldogs, 1-0, Thursday.
“This was a very good win for us. It was a very good show,” Green said. “We have a very good start to the season and I thought this would be our hardest competition. To come away with a 1-0 win is exceptionally good.”
The teams traded punches throughout the first half with neither able to dent the scoreboard.
But, in the 26th minute of the second half, East Knox (4-1-1) was finally able to break through.
Cody Rettig started the play when he threw the ball in to Alec Norris from the sideline. Norris danced around a defender, then made a sweet crossing pass to freshman Jack Leaning, who beat the Heath goalkeeper, and put the Bulldogs up one.
“Jack’s a freshman and when he came out for practice, we could see the kid was pretty good. So, we put him up front and he scored in a scrimmage. He’s got some good skills. It’s great to see him score,” Green said. “It was a perfect cross. It wasn’t a sloppy play, we scored a good, clean goal.”
Heath wouldn’t go away, though, pounding the East Knox side of the field the rest of the game. But, goalkeeper Robert Fields, sweeper Lucas Hopkins and the rest of the East Knox defense was up to the challenge. Hopkins really saved the day as time was winding down when Heath broke past Fields in a scramble up top. Hopkins was able to get back by the net and clear the ball away before it crossed the line.
“Our defense has been rock solid. When you walk off the field and see a zero for the other team, you know your defense is doing something good,” Green said. “I told Robert he needs to send our sweeper a Christmas card because he made him look good.
“Robert’s got some good stuff back there. He’s a first-year goalie ... and has done a real good job for us.”
The Bulldogs will travel to Highland to take on the Scots on Monday. Game time is 5:30 p.m.