LINDALE — First come, first serve.
Lindale scored the game’s lone goal in the first minute, and handed John Tyler its first league loss in a showdown for first place in District 31-4A soccer Tuesday at Eagle Stadium.
In the process, Lindale moved into sole possession of first place.
Senior forward Riley Alvey capitalized on an offensive mishap by John Tyler seconds after the opening kickoff for the difference. The Lions lost control of their early possession while attempting to move downfield and Alvey recovered, squared up with the JT keeper and fired away from eight yards out to make it 1-0 just 23 seconds into the contest.
“He got a breakaway and got by the defense and tapped it by him,” Lindale coach Jason Lawless said of the goal. “You don’t see (a goal that early) often. I’m glad it went our way.”
Both teams entered the showdown — the final match of the first half of district play — minus a loss. Only Lindale left without a loss on its district record. The Eagles (17-4-4/4-0-1, 14 points in 31-4A) trailed the Lions (12-4/4-1-0, 12 points in 31-4A) by virtue of a tie with Chapel Hill before they fixed the issue — for the time being.
“They were the top dog and we beat them,” Lawless said. “We feel good about ourselves to be in first place.”
The Lions lost their first game after giving up a goal for the first time following three consecutive shutouts. JT tightened up over the final 79 minutes but never solved Lindale’s tight defense.
The Lions outshot the Eagles 4-2 on shots on goal in the first half. JT booted several efforts just high of the goal in the second half, including a Noe Diaz free kick from 50 yards away in the 64th minute.
JT midfielder Aron Alonso leaked inside the box on the Lions’ last shot on goal. Lindale keeper Thomas Kincaid kept the shutout going, jumping high and heading the ball in the other direction to thwart the JT attack in the closing minutes.
“I told the guys I was proud of how they came back,” JT head coach Howard Story said while walking toward the locker room following the setback. “In the second half I thought (Lindale) was holding on for dear life.”
JT meets Lindale in Tyler on March 22 in the regular season finale. Both teams control their own destiny as far as the district title goes.
“It’s not the end of the world,” Story said. “We needed a game like this to get tested.”
LIONS’ TALES: John Tyler and Lindale fought to a 0-0 tie in the junior varsity match. JT opens the second half of district play at Athens on Friday.