DOBSON — History continues to be made in Mount Airy soccer’s pursuit of perfection. The Granite Bears defeated the Surry Central Golden Eagles for the first time ever Saturday. Mount Airy’s decisive 4-1 victory advances them to 11-0 on the season.
“It feels great,” Mount Airy coach Will Hurley said. “I am really proud of my team. They rose to the occasion.”
Captain Austin Tumbarello said the team made an effort to come out of the gate strong.
“I think everyone came out and played 100 percent,” Tumbarello said. “Everyone did their part and that’s how we won the game.”
The Golden Eagles, now 8-3, have dropped two of their last three matches. Central went toe-to-toe with Forbush Wednesday and came up short in penalty kicks.
“They were a perfect storm today,” Central coach Blake Roth said of Mount Airy. “I don’t have a bad thing to say about them. They had strength at every position.”
Mount Airy began the game in an unfamiliar fashion when Ernesto Caro put the Eagles ahead. The Bears had only allowed a single goal this season and had never played from behind until then. This feeling wouldn’t last, however, as Julio Contreras evened the score in minute 13.
The visiting Bears then took over, hammering shots at the Central goal. Contreras and Jesus Lachino regulated the midfield for Mount Airy and kept constant pressure on Central keeper Ivan Padilla. Robert Brown nearly gave Mount Airy the lead on a free kick from nearly 40 yards out, but the ball sailed just over the crossbar.
The Eagles struggled to counter the Bears’ offense with an attack of their own. Nolan McMillen and Axel Rangel were able to get the ball into Bear territory but couldn’t get past the intimidating Brown and Jackson Tumbarello of Mount Airy. Surry Central was also slow to 50-50 balls and played sluggish.
“This is not the team that played Forbush,” Roth said.
Surry Central’s kick-and-run offense was ineffective against the Bears. Frustration began to build, and was evident when Hernan Garcia received a yellow card for running into an opposing player. Mount Airy’s offense was still in full effect, however, and the Bears were able to take the lead in the 34th minute on an incredible run by Austin Tumbarello. The senior took the ball through multiple defenders and sent the ball into the net like he has so many times this season.
Central began the second half with more life, but the Eagles still didn’t seem like themselves. While they prevented the Bears from getting shots, they weren’t able to create good shots of their own. They used set-pieces to advance the ball, but had trouble shooting on frame. Nonetheless, Central was getting Mount Airy to play their game.
Jackson Tumbarello received a yellow card from a scuffle by the Mount Airy box. This must have fired up the Bears, because they took the ensuing possession down the field and recorded their first shot of the half. It only took one shot, because Contreras sent it flying past Padilla and into the goal to extend the Granite Bears’ lead to 3-1 with a little more than a half-hour to play.
McMillen served as the spark plug for the Eagles and continued to hustle up and down the field. McMillen made runs up the sideline, but had trouble getting the ball into the box. The mood of the game changed in the the 56th minute, when Central’s Garcia received a red card for a collision with the opposing keeper. The head official spoke with the assistant referee and downgraded the infraction to a yellow card. The Eagles’ offensive slowly withered away, and Mount Airy regained control of the match. A handball in the box leading to a goal by Robert Brown was the proverbial final straw for the deflated Eagles.
Down 4-1 with 20 minutes remaining, the Eagles seemed to play conservative while Mount Airy stayed on the offensive. The Bears continued making runs and taking shots while Central played in cruise control. The final minutes featured lots of midfield play with the exception of a few shots from Central’s Caro and a yellow card awarded to Mount Airy’s Axel Perez.
Coach Hurley applauded his players’ effort until the final whistle of the Bears’ historic win. Now 11-0, one would think the Bears would be complacent with their status. Hurley said they approach each game like it’s the only one that matters, and the results support it.
The schedule for Mount Airy, ranked No. 4 in the state’s 1A ranks by MaxPreps, doesn’t get any easier from here, with a match-up with the state’s second ranked 1A team Bishop McGuinness on Tuesday. Surry Central will only have one day to rest and regroup before facing North Surry on Monday.
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith