The Mount Airy and Surry Central soccer teams battled hard in a matchup of undefeated teams.
Sometimes after a game, a coach will say, “That was such a great match, it’s a shame either team had to lose.”
In this case, no one did as the schools fought to a 5-5 tie at Wallace Shelton Stadium.
“My guys can put points on the board, and I believe against pretty much any team we face,” Mount Airy coach Will Hurley said. “We just have to play better defense on set pieces, and we could have won this one.”
Mount Airy opened up the scoring tally in the seventh minute on a long pass from Jesus Luna to Jose Perez. The pass was to the left of the penalty box, and Perez darted inside before ripping a right-footed shot past the Eagle goalie for a 1-0 lead.
Surry Central responded immediately with a headed goal from Brayan Gomez off a corner kick in the eighth minute.
The Eagles then took the lead with 21 minutes remaining in the first half on a rocket shot from Justo Cristóbal. He gathered a pass inside the right corner of the penalty box and fired a shot across his body that found the back of the net.
“(Cristóbal) has been a utility player for us for a long time, but this season I’ve kept him up top,” Surry Central coach Blake Roth said. “Tonight he played well and did a lot of things for us again, but he just didn’t have the support at times.”
The Bears tied the game just three minutes later with a beautiful display of physicality from Perez. The junior forward outmuscled two Eagle defenders after receiving a long pass to give himself a one-on-one opportunity that he calmly tucked away.
The teams exchanged goals yet again to make the score 3-3, but then Surry Central grabbed some momentum and looked destined for a win.
Gomez scored his second goal of the game off another corner kick with three minutes to go in the first half to give the Eagles a 4-3 lead. They held this lead as the game reached halftime.
In the second period, Mount Airy came out with great purpose and had three clear chances in the first five minutes, but none of these opportunities found the back of the net.
Instead, Surry Central doubled its lead thanks to its two most prolific players on the evening. Cristobal launched a pass into the Bears’ final third and onto the run of Gomez. The striker still had work to do, and he dribbled past two Bear defenders before blasting a goal to give Surry Central a 5-3 lead.
It took ten minutes, but Mount Airy once again became deadly in its offensive attack. The Bears trimmed the deficit to one with 12 minutes to play on a goal from substitute midfielder Cooper Nester.
“Cooper really made a difference tonight,” Hurley said. “He came onto the field and changed the game with his goal. He gave us a sense of belief.”
The game reached its fourth and final tie of the night just 32 seconds later. Jeremy Chappell sent a long throw into the box, headed for Perez. Although nobody from Mount Airy could reach the throw, it reached an awkward position in the penalty area and resulted in a Surry Central own goal and a 5-5 tie.
“I just can’t trust my defense to hold on to a lead right now,” Roth said. “It’s extremely frustrating, and it’s something that we have to figure out.”
Mount Airy will be in action on Thursday with a home match against Elkin, while the Eagles will once again face a tough test when they host Salisbury that same day.
Reach Jackson at 415-4702 and on twitter @jacksonfuller16