KANE — Jordan Lima-Lopez scored a first-half goal, and the Kane Wolves made that lead stand in a 1-0 victory over Port Allegany on Thursday in Upper Allegheny Valley Soccer League action.
The surging Wolves (4-3, 4-2) have now won three straight games after opening the season 1-3, and the win over the Gators (7-2, 4-1) salvages a season split after Port A took the teams’ first matchup on Sept. 5, 8-0.
That 8-0 loss was part of a three-game stretch where the Wolves were outscored 24-2. Since then, Kane has defeated Coudersport (5-3), St. Marys (5-0) and now Port A.
“We got players back (from injury), and we’ve been working hard,” Kane head coach Rene Saquin said. “These kids have put a lot of work in during practice working on everything we needed to fix.
“Those big losses gave us time to get guys more experience, and showed us where we were weak and what we needed to work on, and we’ve gone at it in practice.”
Port Allegany head coach Aaron Clark echoed those sentiments. The loss snaps a six-game winning streak that dated to the beginning of the month for Port A.
“That first game (against Kane), we knew it wasn’t indicative of how good Kane was. This wasn’t the same game, and it wasn’t the same team,” he said. “This is the Kane team we expected this season.”
The Wolves outshot Port Allegany 22-15, and put pressure on Gator goalkeeper Ty Guilds often with 13 shots on goal compared to Port A’s three.
The game’s lone score came at the 23:37 mark of the first half, when Lima-Lopez took the ball off of a throw-in and drilled a goal in from the top right side of the penalty box.
“That was his first career goal. (Lima-Lopez is) a senior and he’s been a starter since freshman year,” Saquin noted. “But he’s more of a defender, so I’m excited for him. He’s worked hard. It was an excellent shot, too.”
Outside of that one Kane score, Guilds and the Port A defense kept the Gators in the game by stymieing Kane most of the way. However, the Gator offense struggled to get going, and only had one good scoring opportunity — a shot from point blank range that sailed over the crossbar with 12 minutes left in the first half.
Aside from that one look, Kane’s defense gave up no clear chances, and frequently contested any shots Port Allegany did take. Kane goalkeeper Alec Huckabone needed to make only three saves on the day.
“Port Allegany plays the long ball a lot. We knew about the long ball, because that’s what cost us in that first game, so we were ready for it,” Saquin said. “Our defense played lights out.”
The story was mostly similar for the Port A defense, which surrendered just the one score and picked up 11 saves from Guilds, even after Kane had three consecutive corner kicks late in the second half in pursuit of a second goal.
In order to get the offense going in future games, Clark says the Gators need to make minor improvements in shot selection and finishing, but that Port A won’t hit the panic button over a 1-0 loss against a quality opponent.
“We’re not going to change a whole lot or our identity. We are who we are,” Clark said. “One loss won’t freak us out. Losing to this team is not a mark of shame.”
Up next, Kane travels to DuBois Central Catholic on Saturday, while Port Allegany hosts Northern Potter next Thursday.