STANFORD — It’s a big week for the Danville boys, maybe a little too big for their coach’s liking. But so far the Admirals appear to be getting through it just fine.
All three of the Admirals’ regular-season district games are compressed into just five days, and they appear to be getting progressively more difficult.
The Admirals cleared the second stage of this early-season gauntlet Thursday night by beating Lincoln County 3-1 for their second straight victory in the newly configured 45th District and their fourth in a row overall.
Now it’s on to a typically emotionally charged game Saturday night against archrival Boyle County. And while it’s fine for Danville to focus on that game now, coach Brent Beauman was hoping the Admirals wouldn’t do that while they were playing Lincoln.
“I was worried about that tonight, and I talked to them about that before the game. I said, ‘We don’t need to worry about the weekend. We need to take care of this first, then we can worry about Boyle County.’”
Danville thumped Lincoln 8-1 the last time they crossed paths in the 2010 postseason, but the teams appeared much closer in this game in which the Admirals handed the Patriots their first loss of the season.
Lincoln won 28 games over the last two seasons and its first district title a year ago, and Beauman said the Patriots are continuing to move forward under first-year coach Chaz Garcia, who once coached some of Danville’s players at Bate Middle School.
“Garcia’s done an excellent job. That’s a completely changed Lincoln team,” Beauman said. “They’ve got some success, there’s really a lot of fire in the program. And I¿really like him ... so I’m glad they’re having success, but we still want to maintain what we have.”
Visiting Danville (5-2-1, 2-0 district)¿did that Thursday by scoring all three of its goals in the first half — two by Shawn Ramos and one by Christian Gateskill-Fuqua, who share the team lead with eight goals each — then holding off rejuvenated Lincoln (4-1, 1-1) in the second.
Lincoln outshot Danville 6-3 and had four of its five shots on goal after halftime.
“I’m extremely, extremely proud of the boys the second half. That first half was just awful,”¿Garcia said. “And at halftime ... I told the boys, ‘... Emotions are flowing everywhere, and that’s killing us, and we don’t have any heart, and if you guys want to win this game, you’re going to have to play with heart.’ And they did in the second half. They left their emotions off the field and took their heart on the field.”
The damage had been done by Danville, however. Ramos started the scoring 8 minutes, 8 seconds into the game, taking a pass from Gateskill-Fuqua and firing a long shot from the right side that rattled into the upper left corner of the goal.
Gateskill-Fuqua scored in the 29th minute from 20 yards off a pass from Ramos, and Ramos struck again in the 37th minute when he fielded a pass from Carson Coulter and drove to within less than 10 yards for a one-on-one faceoff with Lincoln goalkeeper Ian Blevins.
Lincoln scored in the 39th minute when Jacob Gourley punched the ball behind Danville goalkeeper Matt Oster, then hurdled over him to shoot into an empty net.
Oster and Blevins, one of three goalkeepers Lincoln has used this season, each had five saves.
“He was huge today,” Garcia said of Blevins. “Ian is slowly developing as our keeper.”
Both sides played a hard, physical game, and both coaches were fine with that.
“I’m OK¿with that,” Garcia said. “Those are quality players. They’re gonna push, they’re gonna swipe, they’re gonna hack, and we’ve just got to do it back. ... It was a very physical game, and I like physical games. We need physical games.”
Danville started its unusual stretch of schedule with a 7-0 victory over Garrard County on Tuesday in the first of three district games in four days
“I don’t know if I’ll do that next year, but in the postseason you’ve got to have three wins to make it through the week,” Beauman said.
The Admirals now have less than 48 hours to recover before getting a chance to clinch the top seed in their district tournament with a win over Boyle, which beat them 3-2 last year.
“If we’re both good, we’re both struggling, it doesn’t matter, it’s going to be a good game. Parents are talking, kids are talking, and that’s what’s good about it. It’s all just good clean fun. That’s why you play sports,” Beauman said.
Meanwhile, Lincoln claimed a second-half victory that Garcia said could be important if the Patriots play Danville again.
“If we had gotten beat 6-0, 6-1, 6-2, it would be devastating for the boys going into district, because they would have looked the whole game like they looked in the first half, and Danville would’ve just walloped us,” Garcia said.