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Singh's heroics lift Belmont over I-L in double OT

Belmont’s Ashton Singh (left) fights for a loose ball during the Red Raiders’ 2-1 double overtime win over Inter-Lakes on Sept. 2. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
September 05, 2011
MEREDITH – Ashton Singh wasn't about to let his team leave town without a win.

The Belmont High School midfielder hit an absolute bomb from 25 yards out, sneaking in just under the crossbar with only 23 seconds left in double overtime to give the Red Raiders a come from behind 2-1 win over host Inter-Lakes High School in Division III boys' soccer action Friday afternoon.

"In my head I just knew I was going to score so I ripped a shot out of nowhere," Singh said of the game-winner. "I don't usually shoot from that far out but I just felt it."

The goal set off a jubilant celebration for the Raiders, as the visitors played from behind for most of the game before a frantic second half charge saw Austin Wilder tally and tie the game 1-1 with just six minutes left in the second half, sending it to overtime.

"We did not play well and basically stole a game today," said Belmont coach Mike Foley. "Hats off to Inter-Lakes, they played outstandingly well defensively."

It was a much different looking Lakers team on Friday, as the team rebounded nicely from a 4-0 loss to Winnisquam earlier in the week.

"We had a point to make in this game after coming out flat and playing the way we did against Winnisquam," said I-L coach Steve Welch. "Belmont's a very competitive team but the guys played really hard against a good team. We'll build from here."

Playing at home on their turf field, Inter-Lakes came out hot in the first half and got on the board first. Senior Ben Ainsworth received a long ball around the 18-yard box and bodied up his defender before gaining some separation and turning towards goal. Ainsworth's shot was perfectly placed in the upper corner, as it deflected off Belmont goalkeeper Kaleb Brace's fingertips and into the net to give I-L a 1-0 lead in the eighth minute.

"We're not a big team so we use our speed and technical play to our advantage," said Welch. "Something we definitely work on is our counterattack and we had some success using that today."

That counterattack was used effectively by Ainsworth and junior Sean Mussen, while seniors Andrew Kelley and Robbie Wood helped spring the pair on several occasions as the Lakers took the 1-0 lead into halftime.

"It took us probably 10 to 20 minutes to get our heads into the game and once we did, we found ourselves behind already," said Foley. "(Inter-Lakes has) a ton of speed and we're still trying to figure some things out on defense. But overall we're playing smart soccer."

Belmont had a slew of chances to get the equalizer in the second half, especially on corner kicks as Brendon Johnson put several corners in dangerous areas. Johnson found Bryan McLelland on the back post in the 53rd minute, but McLelland's shot was blocked by a player on the goal line and cleared out of harm's way.

With time running out, it was Wilder, the Belmont captain, who knotted things up as his shot from distance trickled past Lakers goalkeeper Jonah Steiss with six minutes remaining to give the Raiders new life.

"You got to give a lot of credit to Belmont, they never gave up," said Welch. "We want to be able to play just like they do and I think we're heading in that right direction."

While both teams had chances in the first 10-minute extra frame, the second OT was full of end-to-end action as both teams began showing fatigue from playing 100 minutes of soccer. With the game looking like it would end in a hard-fought 1-1 draw, Singh's winner came just in the nick of time for Belmont.

"In the first overtime, I think everyone was out of breath a little but we just all pulled it together and played hard until the end," Singh said. "It was definitely one of the biggest goals I've scored and it means a lot when you win a game from it."

While Foley admits his team still has plenty of work to do, he was happy with the way the Raiders pulled out the victory.

"I attribute this to these guys being able to dig themselves out of a hole," the coach said. "Games like this teach you how to recover, how to finish a game. There'll be plenty more overtime games this year so it was a good experience."

Steiss made 17 saves in his varsity debut for the Lakers, as the team was without three players due to injury and had five JV players suit up.

"I'm happy with the effort today," said Welch. "Yeah, things didn't go our way, but sometimes they just don't. No one should walk off with their heads down after this one though, that's for sure."

The teams meet again on Sept. 20, when the Lakers travel to Belmont for the rematch.

Varney Smith
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