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West holds off Lexington in OT

West Davidson and Lexington players battle in front of the Lexington net during the first half of their soccer match Wednesday night. Pictured are (from left) Lexington’s Luis Sandoval, West Davidson’s David Monk, Lexington goal keeper Rey Cuanas, West’s Sammy Antonelli and Lexington’s Caleb Iglesias. (Photo by Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch)

TYRO | With a handful of shots from point-blank range that refused to find the back of the net, West Davidson was slowly seeing its shot at a Central Carolina Conference championship slip through its fingertips.

Cole Barnhardt let the Dragons breathe a huge sigh of relief.

After Lexington turned away a West corner kick with four minutes left in overtime, T.J. Eller fired a throw-in from just beside the corner over a sea of Yellow Jackets and Green Dragons in front of the net. Barnhardt was there, behind them all, and chipped in a shot past Lexington keeper Rey Cuanas to give the Dragons a 1-0 victory at Tyro Middle School on Wednesday night. With the win, West remained in a tie with Salisbury in the loss column at the top of the CCC standings. West moved to 5-1 in the league, 9-2-3 overall, while Lexington dipped to 3-3, 8-6-2.

The Jackets, who handed West its only league loss two weeks ago at Philpott Stadium, dodged bullet after bullet as West missed on multiple golden opportunities. West coach Chris Brown, who said the soccer gods were on his team’s side in its upset of Salisbury in the teams’ first meeting, had to be wondering if he had angered those same gods. “Yeah, I thought they were frowning on us tonight,” he said. “I was proud of our guys.

“We met on Monday, and all our guys were talking about, ‘Let’s be somebody.’ We still want to be number 1. We came out and played hard, they played hard, and I think both teams left it on the field.”

Lexington coach Tim DeZego certainly wanted to knock the Dragons out of the title hunt, and his team had also had its chances. The Jackets dominated possession in the first half, but the defense of Jamison Wynn and David Monk made it hard for Lexington to get a good look at the goal. When the Jackets did get a good shot, it either sailed wide, over the crossbar, or Adam Schofield was there for the save.

DeZego knew the Jackets’ inability to finish an opportunity allowed West to hang around. “It was definitely one of those games, where you’ve got to make your opportunities count,” DeZego said. “We probably dominated possession in the second half, too, but it doesn’t do you any good if you don’t get the ball in the back of the net.”

Lexington looked destined to get on the board early in the second half. Griffin Gray delivered a nice throw-in from the corner, right to Caleb Iglesias’ head in front of the net. But the header floated above the bar.

The Dragons turned up the heat from there, really applying pressure and keeping the ball on Lexington’s end of the field for sustained periods. West had two gimmes in the final six minutes of regulation, but Sammy Antonelli misfired from almost inside the net, then Monk’s header sailed over the crossbar a few minutes later.

The Jackets had two solid chances in overtime, but Iglesias fired one shot over the goal, and Schofield deflected Patrick DeZego’s direct kick just over the top of the bar shortly after the Dragons’ goal.

Lexington visits Salisbury on Monday, while West visits Thomasville on Monday.

Jason Queen can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 220 or