John Pringle yanked the back of his jersey over his head, hiding the expression of anguish on his face.
With Brunswick keeper Finn McGannon sprawled out on Linganore’s stadium turf in the first half of a boys soccer match Monday, Pringle had just sailed a shot from just outside of the penalty box over the crossbar.
“I just felt a bunch of remorse,” the Linganore midfielder said.
Pringle had also endured some physical pain, sporting a heavy ice pack on his left forearm — the result of a Brunswick player who fell on him during a tackle.
In the end, everything was well worth it for Pringle, who during a game full of Lancers squandered scoring chances cashed in on the opportunity that mattered most.
On teammate Kendall Johnson’s short lob into the box, Pringle converted on a header in the 73rd minute, giving the Lancers a 2-1 victory over the Railroaders.
“At halftime, my team talked me up,” Pringle said. “They told me to keep my head up and that I’d get another chance, and I did.”
Less than a minute before Pringle’s go-ahead goal, midfielder Warren Stewart threaded a nice throughball onto the feet of Oral Coleman, who from the left side of the penalty box rifled a shot that hit the right post. It eventually led to a throw-in by Johnson, the Lancers’ right back, from the right sideline.
Pringle was positioned on the left side of the box, about 10 yards out. Johnson’s throw-in bounced around inside the box and made its way back to him near the upper right corner of the box.
“I told my teammate, Warren Stewart, to make a run for the near post because I knew the [Brunswick] defender would leave [my area] and leave that open,” Pringle said. “I just ran in there, and [Johnson] crossed it in, and I was wide open.”
The Lancers (2-1) are off to their best start in years, but they needed to survive one last push from the Railroaders (1-4), who had two corner kicks in the final minute. On the first of the two corners, Linganore goalkeeper Braden Weinel dove to his right to make a great save on a header by Brunswick’s Logan Malone.
After the match, as the Railroaders returned to their bench, Brunswick coach Shawn Baker walked toward them and repeatedly said, “Keep your heads up.”
“Everyone did their part,” Baker said. “We fought until the end. We had a couple really good chances, and [Weinel] made a lot of good saves.”
Weinel finished with six saves, also drawing similar praise from his own coach, Brian Johnson.
But Johnson also bemoaned the chances the Lancers did not cash in during the match. Coleman broke free on two dynamic runs on the right flank during the first half, rifling one shot that went wide left and clanging another one off the near post. Brunswick starting goalkeeper Jonathan Henry, who suffered a sprained ankle late in the first half, made a nice save to deny William Quansah.
Both Quansah and Aidan Shaw got behind the defense in the second half on runs down the left flank, but their shots sailed wide of the far post.
“It would have been nice to capitalize on one or two more,” Johnson said.
However, the Lancers, who had failed to generate much offensive pressure during the early stages of matches in past years, are getting off to much stronger starts this season. Linganore scored the first goal of the match in the 11th minute, when Shaw ran onto a pass from Aaron Oman and buried a shot from about 15 yards out.
“I think our team has a lot of chemistry,” Kendall Johnson said. “A lot of us have played on the same club team together, so I think that really helps translate, and we’re fortunate enough to go to the same high school.”
Brunswick’s Kamron Harris tied the match three minutes later after receiving a pass from Scott Leazer, chipping the ball over Weinel, who had come off his line to contest the shot.
“I liked the fight and the drive that we had to continue to go [forward],” Baker said.