The Mount Airy Granite Bears began their soccer season exactly one month ago with high expectations. In a month’s time, the Bears have won eight straight matches, scored 67 goals, and allowed zero. Match number eight was no different than the ones prior in which Mount Airy put on a clinic and won via mercy rule.
The winless Buckin’ Elks knew they would be fighting an uphill battle against the Bears and came out swinging. Mount Airy dominates its opponents by maintaining possession, and Elkin tried to disrupt the Bears’ flow in the early going. Mount Airy’s runs were halted by the Elkin back line and sent into the midfield. Elkin was unable to mount any offense, but they kept the Bears from scoring for nine minutes, a feat not many teams have the privilege of saying this season.
But the Elks were only able to contain the offensive juggernaut of Austin Tumbarello for so long. Tumbarello weaved through defenders so only the keeper was in his way of a goal. Tumbarello gave up a possible shot and passed to Jarrett Jimenez to score the easy goal, making it 1-0 Bears.
Now that the floodgates were open, it wouldn’t be long until the home team extended its lead. It only took about 30 seconds for Bryan Valadez to hammer home a pass from Jesus Lachino and give Mount Airy a 2-0 lead. Julio Contreras nearly scored another goal within the ninth minute if the goal had been mere inches to the left. Christian Vernon redeemed his teammate with a goal in the 14th minute. Just like that, the Bears were up 3-0.
With the Mount Airy offense getting all of the recognition on the scoreboard, it’s important to note that most of the Bears’ runs began from their spectacular defense. Robert Brown distributed the ball beautifully in a way that permitted his offense to set up shots. Coach Will Hurley applauded his defense’s ability to keep the ball on the Elkin side of the field for most of the game.
Goal number four came in the 18th minute when an Elkin defender tried to clear a ball out of the box and it ricocheted into the goal off the leg of Simon Cawley. Tumbarello scored his second goal of the match in minute 23. Jimenez was not to be outdone when he scored his second goal of the match off an assist from Lachino, who also achieved his second assist on the play. The half ended with Mount Airy up 6-0 on 25 shots. Elkin did not have a shot attempt in the first half, and the only time keeper Jesus Valdez touched the ball was on a pass from his teammates.
Try as they might, Elkin just couldn’t mount any threatening offense in the first half. When the second half began, the Elks were able to get a quality shot. Lucio Avilez sent a screamer flying from 30 yards out that just missed wide right. Elkin’s efforts were too little, too late as Tumbarello took it upon himself to end the match. Tumbarello scored the next two goals for the Bears and assisted on the ninth and final goal, scored by Jimenez. Tumbarello and Jimenez both achieved hat tricks before the game was ended in the 50th minute.
Bear Bryant is credited for the saying, “Offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships.” Coach Hurley must’ve taken this saying to heart because he credits his incredible defense to his team’s success.
“We’ve worked really hard on defending, because that is the one thing that hurt us the last couple of years,” Hurley said. “We could score with the best of them, but we would give up goals with the best of them. Just goal after goal after goal.”
Hurley continued, ”I know someone is eventually going to score on us. I just don’t want it to knock the wind out of us.”
Hurley wants his team to get better every game, and they will have to with challenging games ahead versus Surry Central and Bishop McGuinness.
“The schedule is going to get really hard starting out next week and we can’t panic.” Hurley said. “We’ve got to keep our composure and not get down on each other and keep it positive because we are all going to make mistakes.”
Mount Airy looks to keep its perfect record alive when they host an impressive Calvary Day School Tuesday. Elkin continues the search for its first victory when they host Wilkes Central Monday.
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith