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Laughlin’s save keeps Eagles unbeaten

By Richard Greene | Published Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Decatur keeper Wade Laughlin made a jumping save off a corner kick in the final 45 seconds Friday to protect the Eagles’ lead in a 2-1 victory over Wichita Falls.

“The shot was going over Wade and in the goal, but he jumped for it, bobbled it, did a 360, and came down with the save,” said Decatur coach Nick Stokes.

The victory kept the Eagles undefeated in District 9-4A with a 1-0-2 record. Decatur is tied for second place with four points – two back of league leader Wichita Falls Rider.

“This is the best position we’ve ever been in,” Stokes said.

The Eagles took on Rider Tuesday before returning home Friday to take on Burkburnett.

“Friday is a big game,” Stokes said.

The Eagles find themselves in the middle of the playoff hunt after not winning a game last season.

“We’ve had some freshmen come in and help us,” Stokes said. “But this year’s seniors are taking over and doing whatever they can to be successful.”

Laughlin’s last-minute save was one of 16 for him on the night. He gave up one goal on a penalty kick that tied the score in the 50th minute.

Stokes said the Eagles’ tough defense limited quality scoring opportunities for Wichita Falls.

“We played tight defense all night,” Stokes said. “We dropped our outside midfielders down to defend the back third and try to defend against their speed on the outsides. It paid off as we only allowed 15 shots – most of which were slow rollers that Laughlin had no trouble with.”

Decatur set the tone early Friday with Brandon Rivera scoring a goal five minutes in. The goal was disallowed by an offside call.

In the 20th minute, Decatur got a free kick from 45 yards out. Taylor Spence played the ball to the six-yard box. When the Wichita Falls keeper struggled to field the ball clean, Tyler Wilson punched it inside the near post to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead.

With the score tied at one, Decatur earned another free kick with 20 minutes left from 70 yards out. Spence again played it deep, and the Wichita Falls keeper couldn’t field it. Rivera was there to boot it home for his third goal of the season.

Spence, Reece Fitzgerald and Russell Cross protected the lead with tight defense over the final 20 minutes.

Spence got assists on both Decatur goals. Edgar Mares put two other shots on goal.

Jake Anderson led the Eagles with four steals. Rivera and Fitzgerald added three each.

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