STATESVILLE — Surry Central opened its soccer season with a 2-2 tie at West Iredell.
The Golden Eagles are a young team in general and got even younger when head coach Blake Roth sat a couple of seniors for disciplinary reasons.
At any given time, the Eagles had one senior and just three or four juniors on the field with a bunch of freshmen and sophomores.
Central lost a huge number of seniors from last year’s 17-6 team, which could have sent the team reeling. However, Roth said he feels like this squad has reloaded with plenty of young talent. The boys are inexperienced but talented, he said.
West Iredell went 16-7-1 last year against 3A competition.
“It’s early in the season,” said Roth. “When you schedule a 3A school the first game of the year, which is a very good soccer school, it sends a message to the kids: you have to get better. Whether you win or not, you understand the level of play is very high, and you’ll have to step up. We had some guys do just that last.”
The team stuck to the game plan fairly well, and the coach was really proud of the tie.
The Eagles possessed the ball more than the Warriors, generally outplayed them and outshot them 13-8, said Roth.
In the 23rd minute, Central’s Arturo Lopez took the ball up the left side and made a nice center feed to Osber Valle for a score.
It wasn’t even 30 seconds later when the Warriors got the ball into the 18-yard box, and a Central defender went low for a sliding block. Roth said he felt like the block was clean, but the officials ruled it a takedown and awarded a penalty kick.
West Iredell converted to tie it 1-1.
In the 30th minute, the Warriors had a free kick from just outside the box.
Keeper Fernando Talavera made a great diving stop, but the other defenders were too busy watching and didn’t react.
Talavera stopped the shot, but the ball rolled off his hands. West Iredell rushed forward to finish off the play while Central was standing still.
That was a great teaching moment, said Roth. It doesn’t matter how beautiful Central’s first goal was, West Iredell converted a PK and a trash goal and led 2-1, he explained.
The guys felt like they were robbed by ending in a tie, but now they know to never give up on a play, he said.
It was nearly half an hour of playing time before another goal was scored. Midway through the second half, Lopez battled for the ball on the left side.
Lopez won the ball and took a couple of touches toward the 18-yard box. He went far post past the keeper to tie the match.
“That’s a senior play coming from a sophomore,” said Roth.
Lopez should have played JV as a freshman but was pushed up to varsity. Now that experience is paying off, the coach said.
While he didn’t want to get into the player suspensions, Roth did note that he was pleased that the two seniors were involved in the game from the sidelines. Like assistant coaches, they were yelling out instructions to the younger players, he said.
Surry Central travels to Mount Airy on Tuesday, then East Surry visits on the following Thursday.