The Orillia Opdenkelder Landscapes and Design U14 Lightning soccer team clinched the league title in the Huronia and District Soccer League on Monday evening with a hard-fought come-from-behind victory over the Huntsville Strikers.
The Strikers played the Lightning tough, and thwarted most of the Lightning attack in the midfield and quickly countered to keep the Orillia defenders busy in the first half.
Defender Aidan Granulo was called on often to stop a number of dangerous rushes by the Strikers. The Lightning found themselves down 1-0 at half-time as they struggled to find their rhythm.
The Lightning started the second half with a sense of urgency and started to win more of the challenges for the ball. It wasn’t until the mid-way point of the second half that the Lightning were able to strike.
Liam Rose used his speed to blow past the Huntsville defence and then sent a perfect cross to a streaking Perjan Soltani, who was able to corral the pass at full speed and bury into the back of the net to the disbelief of the Huntsville defence.
Soltani added his second of the game a few minutes later as Mason Bard directed a quick pass just beyond the reach of Huntsville’s charging goalkeeper.
The Lightning continued to press the reeling Strikers. Shortly after his second goal, Soltani was able to deke out a few Huntsville defenders to create just enough space outside the penalty area to take a shot that curled away from the Huntsville goalie into the left corner of the net.
Jacob Hazel and the rest of the Lightning midfield limited the chances of the pressing Strikers in the dying minutes by playing a strong positional game. Ryder Huffman made a spectacular save in the last two minutes of the game to seal the 3-1 victory.
The Opdenkelder Landscapes and Design Lightning finished the season on a nine-game winning streak to clinch the league title with a 12-2 record.
Soltani captured the scoring title as he recorded his 33rd, 34th and 35th goals of the season in the contest.