What a difference a few days can make.
North Surry’s soccer team will go into Friday night’s rematch with county rival Mount Airy on a two-match winning streak and a streak of 161 minutes of game action without allowing a goal after shutting out visiting Walkertown 4-0 on Wednesday.
The victory came less than 24 hours after the Lady Hounds (2-2) broke into the win column for the first time this season, downing rival East Surry 1-0 on Tuesday night thanks to a goal from sophomore Adaly Hernandez.
Having tasted success against one red-clad team, the Lady Hounds came out hungry for more on Wednesday. It only took North Surry 58 seconds to score. The team took the opening kickoff and quickly pushed into the Walkertown end of the field, where Julisa Ramos and the Wolfpack keeper went after a loose ball about six yards in front and left of the goal. Ramos beat her to it and kicked the ball into the open net for a 1-0 lead.
That set the tone for the rest of the evening. The Wolfpack goalie ended up having an outstanding outing, notching 11 saves before the night was done. But she found herself under entirely too much pressure, as North Surry kept the pressure on and had the ball in the Walkertown end of the field for all but about 10 minutes of the match.
“I’m a lot happier than I was Friday night (after a 3-1 loss to Mount Airy),” said North Surry coach Julie Gammons. “Our time of possession was high and that was a goal of ours, to control the ball.
Exactly nine minutes into the contest, the Lady Hounds pushed the lead to 2-0. Alexa Hernandez was working near the sideline when she was fouled by a Wolfpack defender. The official on the scene awarded Hernandez with a free kick from about 20 yards away, and she put it inside the left post and over the keeper’s head.
Walkertown (0-4) didn’t have its first shot on goal until 19:05 remained in the first half, and it had only two in the entire match. Lady Hound keeper Grace Swift got to both of them and quickly sent North Surry’s offense back in motion by punting the ball to midfield.
The remainder of the first half had to be a little frustrating if you were a Hound backer, as the hosts dominated the rest of the opening period and even put two more shots into the net, including a nifty pass from Adaly Hernandez to Alexa Hernandez, who finished from five yards out. After the goal was announced and the team was celebrating, the official made a late offsides call and waved off the goal, as he had on an early apparent North Surry score.
At intermission, Gammons asked her team to work on some things on both sides of the ball, and vocally encouraged her players when she saw successful execution.
“Defensively, we wanted to stop their forward, number 21 (Faith Fleming),” said Gammons. “She had tons of speed and we made it a point of emphasis to keep her off the ball in the second half, because she could fly. Offensively, we wanted to finish. We want to create opportunities and we want to finish.”
The Lady Hounds turned it up a notch in the second half. Walkertown’s keeper continued to compensate for her team’s shaky defense by being aggressive in pursuing free balls. North Surry had a number of corner kicks where she went after the ball before anyone on either team could get near it. Finally, with time under 27 minutes, Alexa Hernandez tried a new tack, kicking the corner kick short to teammate Brianna Hernandez, who had open space because the entire Wolfpack defense was packed around the net. The freshman closed on the goal and took her shot a split-second ahead of the defense, angling it past the keeper and into the back right corner of the net.
Leslie Ramirez nearly made it 4-0 a minute later, clanging a powerful shot off the left post. But North stayed on the attack and drew a foul in the goal box with time ticking under 21 minutes. Unfortunately, the keeper guess right on Adaly Hernandez’ penalty kick and saved it. Thirty seconds later, the relentless Lady Hounds again just missed scoring when Adaly had an open shot and put it just above the crossbar.
Finally, North Surry got the fourth goal with 17:55 to play, when Ramirez found an opening about 12 yards outside the right post and sent it inside the left post. When play was completed, she was selected as the player of the game.
The Lady Hounds kept the pressure on, but neither team scored again. The only worrisome sign came when Adaly Hernandez was carried off with an injury at the 8:19 mark. Gammons wasn’t sure of her status at press time.
North Surry will seek to avenge one of its two defeats on Friday night when it visits Mount Airy.
“I thought it was a battle for about 60 minutes last time we played them, and then it wasn’t,” Gammons said. “I hope we can play a full game on Friday.”
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.