The Mount Airy soccer team had outscored its opponents 36-6 in the previous four games, but the Granite Bears found themselves in a fight on Tuesday against North Surry.
The Greyhounds led on two separate occasions, but a goal from Malcolm Malone in the opening stages of the second half helped rally the Granite Bears to an emotional 3-2 victory over their rivals.
“I think this close win really helps us as a whole,” Malone said. “We can now connect better. We can make better plays, play stronger defense, and just grow from this.”
North Surry took its first lead six minutes into the match off a beautiful free kick from Alexis Cortés. The junior forward was just outside the penalty box and curled a right-footed kick above the Mount Airy wall and into the back of the net.
North Surry almost scored a second goal moments later, but Jesus Orozco made a nice save to keep the match at 1-0.
The Granite Bears equalized with 27 minutes remaining in the first half off a penalty kick. The referee deemed a North Surry player committed a handball violation inside the box. Jose Perez sent the keeper left and his ball to the right side to convert the penalty.
The Greyhounds took their second and final lead of the match three minutes before halftime on a corner kick. Alex Jones lofted a cross into the box where Cortés out-jumped the Mount Airy defense and headed home for his second goal of the match.
However, Mount Airy immediately regained momentum in the second half. Mount Airy head coach Will Hurley called for a designed play to open up the second period, and it led to a goal.
Chandler Snyder sent a pass through the air and onto the run of Malone, who took one touch and ripped an off-balance shot with his right foot past the North Surry keeper to tie the game.
It was a goal that not only got Mount Airy level on the scoreboard, but helped the team find the motivation and energy to pull through in the end.
“I think it was big,” Hurley said. “I think the goal just fired everybody up, but I think it fired the defense up more than anything, I really do.”
The Granite Bears score the game-winner on a free kick with 15 minutes left in the match. Robert Brown lined up his cross from the right side and sent in a dangerous ball.
The North Surry keeper leaped but couldn’t quite hang on midst the traffic inside the penalty box. The ball fell to Jeremy Chappell who easily slotted away the goal for a 3-2 lead.
It wasn’t a smooth finish for Mount Airy though, as North Surry had plenty of opportunities to tie the match and force an overtime period. The Greyhounds best chance came in the 78th minute off a shot from Eli Combs, but the senior defender’s strike nailed the right post.
With the win, Mount Airy recorded its fifth consecutive win after dropping the first two matches of the season. The Granite Bears will look to keep the momentum rolling on Wednesday against Elkin in their third match in three days.
North Surry will try to bounce back on Thursday with a home match against North Wilkes.
Reach Jackson at 415-4702 and on twitter @jacksonfuller16