Mount Airy defeated Bishop McGuinness for the first time in soccer Tuesday 5-2.
The Granite Bears have had a soccer program for years, but had never gotten one win against the Villains before this season.
It was to the point that when the guys saw Bishop on the schedule, there was a sense of dread.
All that started to change two weeks ago when the Bears nearly pulled off a tie in Kernersville, believed Coach Will Hurley.
The Bears didn’t play well, but were down just 1-0 late in the game. Hurley said he pulled defenders away from the goal in the hopes of getting a late score. Instead, Bishop got behind the defense for a breakaway goal and a 2-0 win.
Still, that game gave the team some confidence, Hurley said.
Going into Tuesday’s match, “The kids were on a mission to beat Bishop for the first time,” he said.
Early in the game, it looked like the Bears drew first blood.
A shot from the right wing sailed over the keeper’s reach, but a defender headed the ball off to the left.
Luke Needham chased down the ball near the back line and passed the ball diagonally back to the middle where Felipe Chavez finished it off.
As the Bears celebrated, the side official waved off the score, calling a controversial offsides ruling.
Rather than sulking over the call, however, Mount Airy seemed energized by its ability to score.
Mount Airy attacked again a few minutes later and nearly got a score as Chavez went too high on his try. Needham also had a close look at the goal, but his shot around a defender went just wide right.
Finally the Bears got that first point as Corey Valentine chased down a long pass and tapped it into the goal while narrowly missing the right post in his haste.
A fluke play gave the Villains an opportunity to score, and they capitalized.
Co-captain Carlos Carrillo, who had 42 clears, went to clear the ball out of Bear territory, but the ball went straight up in the air instead. Defender Ian Halpern raced over to knock the ball away, but the ball deflected off his body closer to the goal.
One of the Villain forwards then beat keeper Alex Mayo to tie the game 1-1. The lead would remain that way until the second half.
Other than that play, the back line was really good Tuesday, said Hurley. And Alex had seven great saves.
In the second half, Chavez finally got his score to make it 2-1. Then a player was taken down in the box for a penalty kick, and Mitchell Brown converted for a 3-1 edge.
The Villains got a penalty kick themselves, but Mayo got a hand on the ball to prevent the score.
“That really ignited everybody,” said Hurley, both the team and the home crowd.
Sam Watson scored twice on what Hurley described as “two nasty balls.” The shots were low and hard and gave the Bears some insurance in the 5-2 win.
Brown finished with two assists. Watson and Jeremy Chappell added one assist each.
Brown was hustling all over the place, said Hurley. If he couldn’t get to the ball to steal it, he was throwing his body in front of the opponent to try to smother any pass attempt.
Cristian Cabrera similarly was hustling all over the back line. He had 21 clears and raced the ball up the left sideline a few times to jump-start the offense.
Halpern and John Hardy also played well, according to the coach. Hardy moved around to a few different positions on the field and posted 17 clears.
The Bears (7-5-1) are a game ahead of East Surry and Bishop for the top 1A record in the Northwest Conference.
The Bears finish the season at East Surry. A win wraps up the 1A top seed, while a loss could drop them into a three-way tie with the Cards and Villains.