DOBSON — Surry Central came out Monday with something to prove. The team needed to get back its confidence following a 4-1 loss to Mount Airy on Saturday. But the visiting North Surry Greyhounds stout defense didn’t make it easy for the Golden Eagles in a physical confrontation in the battle of conference foes. It was offense versus defense in a great back-and-forth match, eventually won by Surry Central 1-0.
It was evident from the opening whistle that this was not the Surry Central team that played Mount Airy. The Eagles took their time setting up attacks and playing possession. The back line would switch the field at the first sight of an opposing attacker. This is the team that Coach Blake Roth wants to see, a methodical powerhouse that waits until the perfect moment to strike. This nearly led to a goal by Surry Central when the North Surry keeper chased down an attacker, leaving the goal open. The Greyhound defense quickly cleared the ball before the Eagles could take advantage.
Having only scored more than three goals twice this season, North Surry is not known for hammering shots at the opposing keeper. However, the Greyhound defense has become an intimidating force that held offensive juggernaut Mount Airy to one goal earlier this season. The defense was not afraid to get physical with Central attackers to protect their goal. Jonathan Cardosa and Grant Whittington were as intimidating a force as this reporter has seen all season.
The first half featured lots of play in the middle third of the field. The Central midfield controlled the pace, but had to keep resetting when North Surry would halt their attack and send the ball back to the other end of the field. Surry Central was forced to take shots from distances that didn’t worry North Surry keeper Carson Draughn too much. The Greyhounds left Joseph Rangel in-line with the last Eagle defender to make runs, but Rangel had trouble doing it all himself. Even with help from Vincent Hernandez and Javier Vera on runs, North Surry couldn’t get its offense rolling with only two shots in the first half. The Hounds had plenty of free kick opportunities in Eagle territory, but they were either blocked, a striker was called off-sides, or it soared through the uprights to give their football team three points.
Though unable to score themselves, North Surry’s ability to close out on defenders was second nature. The defense moved as a cohesive unit to eliminate a threat. Having held the Eagles without a goal for most of the half, one slip up cost the Hounds in the 38th minute. A big throw in from Nolan McMillen sent the ball into the six-yard box of North Surry and it bounced around before being headed in by Luis Padilla. The Eagles went into halftime up 1-0. Other than in shots and offsides penalties, the statistics were almost all even between the teams.
The opening minutes of the second half saw Surry Central playing on the defensive for a change. Cardoso took a free kick in the first minute that soared over the goal, but it got the ball into Eagle territory, where it would stay for the next eight minutes. Though not sending screamers at Central’s Ivan Padilla, the keeper had to stay on his toes more now than at any point in the first 40 minutes. A corner kick by the Hounds gave Jesus Bautista a shot on goal that was saved by Padilla.
Central soon took back the reins and created offense of its own. Pressure from the Eagle offense led to three corner kicks in a two-minute span. On a shot that would be the cause of the third corner kick, Ernesto Caro sent a screamer at Draughn, who was just able to tip the ball over the goal. Even with their offensive prowess returning, Central couldn’t find the back of the net. Cardoso was determined to keep it that way, running all around the field to ensure the Eagle lead didn’t increase.
Central capitalized on the Greyhounds’ offensive drought to show-off numerous set pieces not seen in the first half. The Eagles’ lead nearly increased when Axel Rangel fired a shot from 30 yards that just barely missed the goal.
The Hounds wouldn’t quit, though. Cardoso sent a free kick from nearly 50 yards on target and forced Ivan Padilla to tip it against the crossbar. This allowed Hernandez to cross the ball through the six-yard box, but no Greyhounds were present to put it away. Joseph Rangel made a last ditch effort for North Surry, but his shot was bobbled and secured by Ivan Padilla.
The Eagles bounced back from a heartbreaking loss and played as a team, even with starter Riley Templeton out. Central won the possession battle and took the time to create runs in an attempt to counter the impressive defense of North Surry. Having played four games in the past six days, the Eagles, now 9-3, have a chance to rest. Central will travel to West Stokes on October 2. North Surry falls 4-6 and will travel to East Surry on Wednesday.
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith