LAURINBURG — The Scotland boys soccer team snapped its five-game losing streak in dramatic fashion against Whiteville Thursday.
Jeb Britt knocked home a penalty kick with a little over six minutes remaining in the game to break a 2-2 tie, giving the Scots their first win in over three weeks.
The Scots led 2-1 at halftime behind goals from Travis Jackson and Britt, but the Wolfpack scored the equalizer with 26:19 remaining to put game pressure back on the host team.
And while Whiteville maintained possession of the ball on Scotland’s side of the field for much of the final 20 minutes, it was the Scots who got the big play they needed by drawing a foul inside the box, setting up Britt for his second and most important score of the game.
Two days after allowing Richmond to score 15 seconds into their match, Scotland ended its week by putting a point on the scoreboard in the same amount of time. Travis Jackson, who returned to the field for the first time in over a month after breaking his collarbone, scored the game’s first goal when he sneaked into a crowded box and booted it into the back of the net.
“It’s nice to get that goal in the first couple of minutes,” said Scotland coach Danny Gallagher. “In this last streak, it’s been happening to us, but now we had the opportunity to go out ahead early.”
Jackson’s early score was a big boost to a team that was without of its best goal-scorers, McKenzie White. White was out of the lineup after suffering extensive cramping in Scotland’s first two games this week, and head coach Danny Gallagher thought it best to leave him on the sidelines so he could rest. On Wednesday, White scored two goals in the Scots’ 3-2 loss to Purnell Swett.
Whiteville knotted the game at 1 with 26:52 before halftime when Leonel Baltazar converted a free kick. The Wolfpack’s set pieces gave the Scotland defense fits for much of the night, and Baltazar hauled in the kick and lofted the shot over the outstretched arms goalkeeper Tripp Wells.
But Scotland would have the last laugh before half, as Jebb Britt drilled a header at the 16:06 mark to give the Scots the lead at intermission.
In the second half, Whiteville came out with a renewed sense of urgency and built offensive momentum. They did a better job of controlling the ball in the midfield and on the outside, eventually breaking through with another goal with 26:19 remaining in the game. Baltazar took a corner kick and launched into into a sea of blue and white, and Wells lost the ball in the crowd before it slowly rolled into the far post for the game-tying goal.
After that score, the Wolfpack continued to press their attack but were unable to score the go-ahead goal. Wells was forced leave his post by the goal and retrieve balls that lurked dangerously close to net a number of times, but none ever found its way past him.
As the Scotland defense held on, the offense was unable to mount many counterattacks until there was less than 10 minutes remaining. The Scots drove it to the Wolfpack’s side of the field, then drew the foul inside the box that set up Britt’s game-winning goal. He confidently kicked the shot through the middle of the goal to give Scotland its sixth win of the season.
According to Gallagher, the 3-2 win, expecially without White on the field, couldn’t have come at a better time.
“It’s big, the boys needed that confidence boost and it was a tough game,” Gallagher said. “I’m so proud of them.”
The non-conference win improved the Scots to 6-8 overall, and they remained 1-5 in the Southeastern Conference. The loss dropped Whiteville to 7-9.
Scotland will travel to Southern Pines Monday to play Pinecrest.
Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13.