Mount Airy soccer coach Will Hurley knew there was no way his Granite Bears were going to be as locked in Thursday night as they had been two nights before.
Just 48 hours after a 2-1 victory over Bishop McGuinness that put the Bears in a tie for first place in the Northwest 1-A Conference, the Bears were back in action in a non-conference match against Elkin. The Bucking Elks are among the better teams in the Mountain Valley 2-A Conference, but they’re not the Villains, and everyone in the stadium knew it.
“We came out flat, and I knew we would,” said Hurley. “After the big win over Bishop, I kind of figured this would happen. In the second half, we finally decided to play.”
Mount Airy (12-5-1) was locked in a 1-all deadlock with Elkin for much of the first half before Cooper Nester scored right before intermission to give the Bears a 2-1 advantage. In the second half, the hosts exploded for five more goals and turned the game into a 7-1 blowout that belied just how difficult the match had been for a while.
“We actually controlled the ball really well in the first half. We were passing the ball well, but we just weren’t finishing,” Hurley said. “After halftime, we finally started to finish.”
The match was scoreless until Mount Airy’s Jeremy Chappell was awarded a penalty kick about 12 minutes in, which he put past the Elks’ goalkeeper for a short-lived 1-0 lead. Four minutes later, the referee awarded Elkin a penalty kick after calling a foul on Mount Airy in its box, and the visitors converted theirs as well.
The Bears spent most of the first half on the attack, keeping the Elks (7-10) on their heels, but not getting the ball into the net until Nester finally converted the late goal that took a little pressure off Mount Airy going into the break.
“In this sport, you can’t just call timeout and regroup, you have to wait until the half,” Hurley said. “We were just trying to hold on and regroup, and we’d be fine.”
Fine was an understatement. After the break, the Bears looked more like the team that whipped the Villains.
Chappell added two more goals for a hat trick, Jose Perez tallied a pair, and Austin Tumbarello sent one into the back of the Elkin net from 30 yards out on what his coach described as a “beautiful shot.”
Perez had two assists in the match, with Chappell, Nester and Tumbarello all earning one. Keeper Jesus Orozco had four saves in goal.
Mount Airy led 4-1 with 14 minutes left to play, then broke it open with three more goals in a six-minute span.
The team is off until Tuesday of next week, when they host Walkertown for Senior Night.
Reach John on Twitter at @johncate73.