KERNERSVILLE — Not all fairy tales have storybook endings. Sometimes, it is the Villain that emerges victorious after a hard fought battle.
The Bishop McGuinness Villains halted the Mount Airy Bears’ chase for a state championship with a 6-1 victory Tuesday night.
The season may not have ended the way he expected, but coach Will Hurley took time to reflect on all the team had accomplished together.
“It was a great season,” Hurley said. “You hate to see kids upset and crying, but you love to see that passion in them that they loved it so much that it bothered them.”
The Bears’ final record reads 23-2-1, with both losses coming at the hands of the Villains.
Mount Airy’s 23 wins signify a new school record for wins in a single season. This is also only the second time ever that the Granite Bears reached the regional final.
“We’ll be back,” Hurley said. “I don’t know that we’ll have quite as good a season, but we’ll be back.”
The game itself summoned herds of supporters from both sides. The hometown Villain fans filled their area of the bleachers, while the Bears bused-in fans from the Granite City.
Bishop wasted little time in getting on the scoreboard. A long throw from Nathan Joseph set up Brandon Linares for the first goal of the match just four minutes in.
Mount Airy was taken aback from the sudden strike and settled for what Hurley calls, “kickball,” by sending the ball from the defense up the middle of the field in the air.
The pressure from Villain strikers put constant pressure on Bear defenders Robert Brown and Jackson Tumbarello in the opening minutes. The defenders tried to get the ball to Austin Tumbarello up top, but their attempts were often intercepted by Bishop keeper Yael Guzman.
Austin Tumbarello and Jarrett Jimenez got things going for the visitors with runs up the right sideline. Jesus Lachino distributed the ball in the midfield, finding a streaking Jimenez. Jimenez crossed the ball to Austin, who headed the ball just wide of the post.
Mount Airy was able to control the pace of the game for the following minutes, but failed to find the back of the net. The tide changed when Lachino was given a yellow card after a collision on a 50-50 ball.
Bishop’s Joseph advanced the ball on the free kick to Bear territory and set up teammate Cameron Bovender for a shot. Joseph kept the ball on the Bears’ half of the field and was a constant threat with his long throw-ins.
There was never a dull moment for Mount Airy keeper Jesus Valadez. The keeper saved back-to-back shots from point-blank range in minute 15. Even when the ball was cleared from the Bears’ box, 10 Villains pressed past midfield to turn it right back.
It wasn’t until minute 23 that Mount Airy mustered any threatening offense once again. Julio Contreras found Austin Tumbarello in the Villains’ box, but had his pass cleared for a Bear corner kick.
Jimenez kept the ball close to the Bishop goal following the kick, and nearly got the Bears on the board with a cross to Jackson Tumbarello. However, the sophomore’s shot sailed wide.
The brothers of Bishop connected for the Villains’ next goal. Nick DeSalvo got a 1-on-1 with Valadez off a pass from Andrew DeSalvo. Nick placed the ball past Valadez to extend the home team’s lead to two.
Desperate for a goal, Austin Tumbarello led the Bears down the field to give Bryan Valadez a shot at Guzman. Guzman made the save and advanced the ball with a punt into Bear country.
The Bears luck went from bad to worse when Linares took the ball 50 yards before scoring the Villains’ third goal.
Jimenez took the ensuing kickoff up the right sideline and set up a corner kick for Mount Airy. Jimenez and the official exchanged words before the corner leading to a yellow card for the Bear.
Mount Airy added its’ third yellow of the half when Dante Collins was called for a spikes-up slide tackle.
The second half saw the Bears go on the attack early. Lachino had a shot at the goal in the first two minutes, but couldn’t get much power behind the shot.
Bishop continued to execute excellent spacing. Players moved as a unit and found the open man to advance the ball. It also helped to have a Linares-type player who could breeze past defenders.
Things started to trend in the right direction for the Bears when Andrew DeSalvo fouled Austin Tumbarello on a break. Andrew was given a yellow card, and Brown notched what would be the Bears’ final goal of the season.
Mount Airy stayed on the attack after their goal. Luis Osorno got two quality looks, but couldn’t put the ball on target.
The biggest blow to the Bears came when Lachino was given his second yellow card and removed from the game. This left Mount Airy to finish the match a man down, as it had in the regular-season away match with the Villains.
The ball moved freely between the teams as both looked to score. Free kicks gave the Bears and Villains open looks at their opponents’ goal in a half that featured 12 fouls and four cards.
Linares and Axel Guzman received yellow cards in minute 25 and 29, respectively. The latter gave Brown a shot at the Villain goal that bounced off the crossbar.
With just under 10 minutes remaining to make a comeback, the worst occurred for Mount Airy. Alex Ruiz followed up on a blocked shot from Linares to put Bishop ahead 4-1.
Just a minute later, a cross from Andrew DeSalvo gave Brad Standen an easy redirect for the Villains’ fifth goal.
Accepting the inevitable, Hurley pulled his seniors out of their final high school match. Joseph put the final nail in the coffin with goal number six.
All season long, the motto for Mount Airy has been, “One game at a time.” This never gave the Bears a chance to reflect on the history they were a part of.
Hurley said the team will absolutely miss this year’s seniors but reiterated his hope for the future.
“We’ll be back,” Hurley said.
The Villains (18-2-3) advance to the NCHSAA 1A State Championship Match on Saturday, November 18 and will face Franklin Academy.
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith