Take away the plays where the Granite Bears scored, and anyone who watched a film of the first half of Mount Airy’s victory over Walkertown on Tuesday night would have concluded it was a very close match.
The visiting Wolfpack controlled the ball for more time than the Bears did, but Mount Airy was the team that made the most of its opportunities, finishing off nearly every scoring chance they had en route to a 5-1 halftime lead and a 7-1 victory on Senior Night.
Prior to the match, Bear seniors Daniel Ballard, Gentry Williamson, Jesus Orozco, Jeremy Chappell and Chandler Snyder were honored for their careers with the soccer team. The team’s subsequent performance provided a worthy send-off for the five players, who were all playing in their final regular-season home match.
Mount Airy (13-5-1, 5-1 Northeast 1-A Conference) scored four times in the first 20 minutes and led 5-0 before the Wolfpack’s Noe Castro finally got his team on the board with 5:53 remaining in the first half. The teams went to the break with the Bears on top 5-1, even though they really hadn’t done a great job with possession.
“We got a little careless in the last 15 minutes of the first half,” said Mount Airy coach Will Hurley. “We kind of underestimated them. They’re a better team than their record indicates.”
The Bears talked it over at the break and clamped down defensively on the Wolfpack, while doing a better job of possessing the ball. With a 5-1 lead, it was unlikely that Walkertown would mount a rally anyway, but Orozco did his best to make sure it couldn’t happen.
About five and a half minutes into the second half, the senior forward brought the ball down the home sideline, then cut through the goal, dribbling his way past several Walkertown players as he moved into the goal box and lined up a shot against the Wolfpack keeper, which he blasted past him from no more than seven yards out.
“I told Jesse that their goalie was easy to expose, that you could dribble right past him,” said Hurley. “He dribbled right through about eight of their players and then beat the goalie.”
Walkertown did manage to mount a serious threat a few minutes later, but Bryan Hernandez made a diving save to his left to keep the Wolfpack from adding another goal to its side of the ledger.
The Bears completed the scoring when Chappell broke free down the middle of the field and put one past the keeper with 14:51 remaining. The senior co-captain posted a hat trick during the match.
Mount Airy completes the regular season with two road matches. The Bears will take on Atkins tonight, then finish up next Tuesday at East Surry.
Reach John on Twitter at @johncate73.