PILOT MOUNTAIN — The East Surry soccer team has struggled on defense this season, and coach Mike Lowery knew he needed to make an adjustment.
Lowery decided to move Trace Simmons from his natural forward spot to a defensive position as sweeper. The move paid off as the Cardinals came away with a 2-1 victory over North Surry on Monday.
“We wanted to try him out on defense because we’ve been giving up a lot of goals in general,” Lowery said. “We thought he could help us back there, and he wanted to do the switch because he thought he could help.”
Simmons was still able to make an impact on the scoreboard despite spending a majority of the time on the East Surry (2-5) back line.
North Surry (1-4) came out and dominated possession at the start, but the Cardinals were the first team to find the back of the net, thanks to Simmons.
Javier Ruiz lined up a corner kick and sent a cross into the Greyhound penalty box. His ball found Simmons unmarked, and the senior calmly tucked away his shot into the side net for a 1-0 lead with 21 minutes left in the first half
The Cardinals got their second goal with seven minutes remaining in the first period, and it was once again off a set piece.
Ruiz sent in another dangerous cross, this time on a free kick about 30 yards out. The Hound defenders had an opportunity to send it away, but they could only get clearance as far as East Surry’s Cody King, who latched on to the ball and scored with the outside of his right foot.
“I’ve hit plenty of crossbars already this year,” King said. “I’m tired of hitting crossbars, and it was about time I was able to get a goal.”
It looked like East Surry might run away with the match from this point, but the Greyhounds responded nicely and cut the deficit to one before halftime.
North Surry scored its goal with a penalty kick from Alex Cortés in the 37th minute. Cortés drilled his shot right down the middle as East keeper Ryan Sutterby dove to his left.
However, this was perhaps Sutterby’s only mistake of the match and the Greyhounds were unable to find an equalizer. The sophomore goalie registered eight saves on the evening and made two stops in the final 20 seconds to help East Surry hold on.
“At the end of the game, to make those point-blank saves, (Sutterby) made some great plays for us,” Lowery said. “He’s also making great decisions coming out and challenging balls.”
Sutterby was almost an extra defender for the Cardinals on Tuesday. The Greyhounds consistently tried to break East Surry’s offside trap, but Sutterby was quick off his line and able to clear balls away well outside the penalty box.
One of these moments from Sutterby helped derail North Surry’s best chance to tie the match in the second half. Alejandro Gómez sent in a lofted ball to Cortés in a one-on-one position with the goalie.
It was a great opportunity, but Sutterby reacted well and noticed a bad touch from Cortés that allowed the keeper to pounce and knock the ball far up field.
East Surry will look to record its first winning streak of the season on Wednesday in a road match against Alleghany, who the Cardinals beat earlier this year 10-1.
Meanwhile, the Greyhounds will look to bounce back on Tuesday when they travel to rival Mount Airy.
Reach Jackson at 415-4702 and on twitter @jacksonfuller16