Source: John CateBaylee Greenwood scores a goal for the Lady Bears off a penalty kick late in her team’s 3-1 loss to East Surry on Thursday.
Mount Airy already knew it had its work cut out for it on Thursday evening, when East Surry came calling.
It didn’t help the Lady Bears’ cause that they had to figure out a way to stop the likes of Greensboro College recruit Mary Jo Lowe and her partners in crime on the front line, Christina Chavez and Abby Key, with a decimated defense. And on top of everything else, they were done in by an old friend late in the match.
It all added up to a 3-1 victory for the Lady Cardinals, who matched Mount Airy in the loss column for second place in the Northwest 1A Conference, improving to 5-7 overall and 3-2 in the league. Mount Airy, which won its first four conference matches against the lesser lights in the loop, falls to 11-5-1, 4-2.
With Mount Airy head coach Will Hurley fielding a makeshift lineup, the Lady Cardinals dominated time of possession throughout the match, and if it hadn’t been for some outstanding work in goal by the Lady Bears’ Kamya Rose, East Surry probably would have run their hosts out of Wallace Shelton Stadium.
“Kamya has a bunch of quality saves,” said Hurley. “She single-handedly kept us in the game in the first half.”
During the first half, the Lady Cardinals possessed the ball for about 80 percent of the game action, and East Surry coach Neal Oliver thought his team should have had a four- or five-goal lead by the break.
In the 30th minute, Lowe got behind the defense and fired from about 15 yards outside the right post, but Rose raced to her right, got her hands on the ball and deflected it away. This time, the Lady Bears reversed the field and Baylee Greenwood got an open shot at East Surry keeper Maggie Collins, but she also met the challenge.
“We put some pressure on them early on, but I felt like we tired quickly,” said Hurley. “With five starters out, it’s hard to be competitive against a good team. Hopefully we’ll get healthy over spring break and can do better when we face them again.”
East Surry took possession back, and less than a minute later, another Lowe blast, this time from 10 years, died in Rose’s arms. She got the ball back out, but the Lady Cardinals kept it in the Mount Airy end, and in the 34th minute, MiKayla Custer ran down a long throw-in and just missed the goal to the left.
Two minutes later, Greenwood got another chance, on a free kick from 35 yards, but Collins grabbed the shot after double-clutching. She sent it back the other way, and with 94 seconds left in the half, a long ball from an East sweeper went over everyone’s head. Unfortunately for Mount Airy, the closest player was Lowe. The Lady Bears’ Kora Ledezma, who had already had several battles with Lowe, went in pursuit and caught up at about 10 yards from the goal, but Lowe shielded the ball from Ledezma and let fly. This time, Rose couldn’t save the day.
The Lady Cardinals took a 1-0 lead into intermission.
“We played pretty well and limited their opportunities in the first half, but we didn’t take advantage of all of our opportunities,” said Oliver. “I felt like we could have had five goals in the first half. But some of that is a credit to Mount Airy as well. They didn’t quit tonight.”
Mount Airy, which had tried to man-mark Lowe with Ledezma and Olivia Malone in the first half, tightened their defense on her even more after the break. Still, she was heard from in the 47th minute, when several Lady Bears closed in on Lowe coming down the visitors’ sideline toward the goal. She promptly made a long crossing pass to Key outside the left post, and she finished for a 2-0 lead.
Forty seconds later, Custer and Elyssa Jones tried to re-enact the same play from the other side of the field, but this time Rose made the play.
In the 10th minute, the Lady Bears’ Allie Sechrist looked like she might celebrate her 18th birthday with a goal, but her 10-yard shot was deflected by East Surry defender Haley France.
Over the next several minutes, both Chavez and Sechrist had another chance to score but were denied by the enemy keepers. It wasn’t until the 72nd minute that the tiring Lady Bears suffered what they might have considered an unkind fate. Chavez sent a corner kick into the middle of the goal box, where it got deflected in the direction of France — who wore Mount Airy blue a year ago. She headed it in to give the ladies in red a 3-0 lead.
A little over two minutes later, Greenwood got a measure of revenge, forcing France to foul her in the goal box and earning a penalty kick, which she converted to make it 3-1. However, despite a few more opportunities in the next few minutes, Mount Airy couldn’t get another score. With 80 seconds to play, Gabbi Troutman headed a ball over an open East Surry net.
The Lady Cardinals will take an 11-day break before hosting Atkins on April 24. The Lady Bears are on an identical hiatus, and will host East Wilkes on the 24th.