What transpired during that 17th minute, however, proved too tough to overcome.
The visiting Patriots made a two-goal lead stand after a furious rally, tacked on a pair of scores late and held on to first place in the SEC with a 4-1 victory over the Pirates.
“I told our kids we had three, maybe four bad minutes, but that’s tough to overcome in a soccer game against a great team,” Lumberton coach Kenny Simmons said. “I thought we did a pretty good job of salvaging the rest of the (first) half, but it was an uphill battle from there.”
Pinecrest’s Jake Harbeck opened the scoring on an unassisted goal at the 23:18 mark of the opening half after re-directing a rebound with his heel in front of the net. A little over a minute later, Geraldo Peraza caught Lumberton keeper Pablo Lazano out of position in a crowd for a 2-0 lead.
The Pirates (9-7, 4-2) missed a penalty kick and a handful of one-timers just before halftime but pulled within a goal with seven minutes remaining after Zach Von Rupp found the back of the net on a penalty kick. Lumberton’s mad rush to gain possession and force shots on goal began soon thereafter.
“We predetermined at halftime who would kick the next (penalty),” Simmons said. “Cutting that deficit in half, we felt pretty good right there. Pinecrest got two cheap ones there at the end because we weren’t in our normal defense.”
The Pirates have lost nine of their last 10 against the Patriots, the lone win coming at home on Sept. 2, 2004. Pinecrest has captured or shared 15 consecutive conference championships dating back to 1997 and has won 270 games during that span.
As far as southeastern region soccer programs go, the Patriots carry the torch and Simmons — whose coached at Lumberton since 1994 — has witnessed it all first-hand.
“There’s this mentality that some teams get seeing those guys on the other side of the field,” Simmons said. “They’ve won for so long, it’s kind of second nature to hang your head once you fall behind against them. They command respect.
“I was proud of my team for not giving up when we fell behind and really playing until the end. We’ve got a great group of kids that continued to play.”
The race for the SEC’s second seed will become more clear next week after Lumberton travels to Raeford and Rockingham. The Pirates have beaten Hoke County (3-2-1) and Richmond (2-3-1) once already this season, both coming at home.
“We’ll kind of see what we’re made of next week,” Simmons said. “They’re two huge games for us, ones we need to win.”