DOBSON — The East Surry soccer team drastically improved in its second match of the season against Surry Central, but it still wasn’t enough in the end.
The Cardinals opened three weeks earlier with three straight losses, including 9-0 to the Golden Eagles. After that, the young Cardinal team started to find its way and won three out of five.
On Monday night, East Surry played better defense and even scored a goal, but the Eagles came out on top with a 2-1 victory.
“I don’t want to call it a moral victory,” East Surry coach Mike Lowery said. “But that is one of the best teams we will play all season, and I think the guys needed a result like this heading into conference to show how much we’ve improved and how things are starting to come together.”
The Golden Eagles (7-1-2) dominated possession throughout and controlled the ball in the East Surry half for long stretches during the match.
In the first half, the Cardinals (3-6) only registered one shot, but they made it count.
East Surry won a free kick about 35 yards from the Eagle goal with 22 minutes remaining in the first half. Javier Ruiz sent a long cross into the box and found the head of Trace Simmons, who outjumped the entire Surry Central defense to direct his shot into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.
The Cardinals held onto this lead for 11 minutes before one of the few defensive mistakes of the night cost them dearly.
Surry Central’s Julio Sánchez sent in a low cross that Cardinal goalie Ryan Sutterby could not gather as he collided with a teammate. The ball popped out to Miguel Tello who tucked away his shot into a wide-open goal for the equalizer.
“It was really unfortunate, that first goal,” Lowery said. “Sutterby played a terrific game all night, but just a little miscommunication at the back hurt in a big way.”
Despite the mistake, Sutterby kept the East Surry team within striking distance. He recorded 12 saves, and Surry Central coach Blake Roth said it was one of the best performances by an opposing goalie this season.
However, even the Sutterby couldn’t quite keep the score deadlocked, and the Golden Eagles found a winner midway through the second half.
Surry Central was probing inside the Cardinals’ final-third when Tello laid off a pass to Justo Cristóbal just outside of the penalty box. Cristóbal took two steps in and ripped a low shot with his right foot that barely snuck under Sutterby’s dive for a one-goal lead with 20 minutes remaining.
The Eagles continued to threaten and on many occasions almost doubled their advantage, but the East Surry defense stayed strong and kept the score at 2-1.
The Cardinals nearly tied the game in the final minute on another free kick.
This time it was a cross from Dylan Wagoner to Gonzalo Chavez that almost gave East Surry its second goal, but Johnathan DeSantiago made a foot save to preserve Surry Central’s lead and to clinch the win.
“As someone who has played goalie, it’s impressive when all game you are standing around, barking out orders and waiting for the action, and all of a sudden you have to make a save like that. He rose to the challenge,” Roth said.
The Golden Eagles notched another win over their rival, but Roth was disappointed in his team’s overall performance.
“It’s just frustrating because we know how good we can be, but we just are not playing up to our potential,” Roth said.
Surry Central will look to keep the winning ways going and try to right the ship on Tuesday in a home match against North Davidson.
In the Western Piedmont Conference, Central has to contend with the likes of Forbush (7-1-1) and West Stokes (5-1-1).
The Cardinals will next be in action on Monday against North Surry. Then they have several Northwest Conference matches in a row.
Right now, Mount Airy is atop the nonconference standings with a 6-3-1 record, then Walkertown is 4-3.
Reach Jackson at 415-4702 and on twitter @jacksonfuller16