Lordstown boys start play on new surface

LORDSTOWN — A sun-soaked, 90-degree day made for a beautiful setting as the Lordstown Red Devils beat the Mathews Mustangs 4-2 in boys soccer action Tuesday afternoon.

The Devils began a new chapter in Lordstown athletics. After the girls soccer team opened the new athletic complex, Veterans Memorial Stadium, with a 6-0 victory over Valley Christian last Monday, it was the boys turn to christen their new field.

The stadium is located at the site of the old gravely track and playground. The aging elementary and middle school that stood next door has been demolished. The complex features an all-weather track with bleacher seating and is a major upgrade from the previous facilities.

“It feels great to have a new field,” Lordstown junior Marcel Jenkins said. “Lordstown hasn’t always had the money to do something like this. The bleachers give a lot of people the opportunity to come out and support us. We’re grateful to have this. We got off to a little bit of a slow start, but at halftime, we talked to coach and we played better in the second half.”

The Mustangs got out to a quick 1-0 lead on a goal by junior Demetrius Rhea.

Lordstown tied it up, and Mathews went back up 2-1 when freshman Dominic Greenwood took advantage of the goalie being out of position and tapped the ball in from point-blank range.

The Devils quickly answered each score with goals of their own by sophomore Marcos Lopez Sanchez. Lopez Sanchez is an exchange student from Spain who just arrived two weeks ago. He will be spending the school year with his teammate sophomore Seth Stevens’ family, as they will be his hosts.

“It will be great to go to school and play soccer here. I like it,” he said.

Each goalie (Ryan Gates of Mathews and Collin Himes of Lordstown) made some big saves. Lordstown missed a wide-open attempt. Rhea’s corner kick just missed and landed on top of the net as the game went to halftime tied at 2.

Lordstown sophomore Jay Frank put the Devils on top 3-2, scoring a goal two minutes into the second half.

“It was a slow start,” Frank said. “We came out in the second half and started trusting each other. The field is great, without the ruts, and hills of the old field. The bleachers help bring more people out. It’s just a better area now.”

Lordstown tacked on an insurance goal with a long-distance strike from sophomore Matt Eakins, making it 4-2.

“Playing like this, against a team like Lordstown, shows us that we’re making real progress,” Mathews coach George Callow said. “We’re a young team and I’m happy with the effort.”

“They dictated the flow against us early,” Lordstown coach Tim Malone said. “They controlled the ball better than we did. We just put the ball in the net a couple more times. This place means everything to us. It’s fabulous. It means a lot for the community. A lot of people use the track. This is like a dream for a soccer coach. The size of the field will really help us develop our game in getting the ball out wider. We have some more things to add, but soon this is going to be one of the finest soccer fields in the area.”