March 18, 2023 – United Soccer League One (USL1) – Lexington Sporting Club News Release
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – History took place Saturday evening as Lexington Sporting Club hit the pitch for the first time as a professional side in United Soccer League (USL) League One, albeit in a 2-1 defeat against host One Knoxville SC.
The match had been in the making since October 2021, when the city was officially awarded a USL League One expansion franchise, but needed an extra 30 minutes due to a lighting issue at Regal Soccer Stadium.
Once the match got underway, the fans were treated to a spirited contest between two newly appointed rivals within League One.
One Knoxville came out on the front foot and got on the board first in the 17th minute, as Jimmie Villalobos converted on a penalty kick.
Lexington settled into the match and earned a penalty on the other end of the pitch in the 28th minute when Khalid Balogun was brought down in the box. Veteran Don Smart stepped up and slotted the ball home for Lexington SC’s first ever professional goal.
Jake Keegan brought momentum back to the home squad with a goal off a rebounded effort in the 40th minute, just moments after a dramatic save from Amal Knight.
That proved to be the difference in the match, as neither side scored in an action packed second half that included six yellow cards and one red, issued to Smart in the 71st minute. Despite being down to 10 men, Lexington SC had a couple late scoring chances before the final whistle.
“Obviously, we’re very disappointed with the result,” said head coach Sam Stockley. “You know, to lose one away from home for our first game of the season is disappointing with all the work that we’ve done. I thought we had a good response that came out in the second half. I felt at times we had the ball and we dominated the ball. The boys worked very hard and moved it, and never gave up. They always keep responding. And we’ll get back to work on Tuesday.
Lexington SC is off next weekend, and returns to USL League One action Saturday, April 1, on the road at North Carolina FC. Kick off from WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C., is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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