The Mount Airy Lady Bears were not in a merciful frame of mind when East Wilkes came calling for the second time in a week on Wednesday evening.
Exactly a week after beating the Lady Cardinals 8-2 in the penultimate match of the regular season, the hosts faced them again in the first round of the NCHSAA 1A state playoffs, and clobbered them 11-2 in a match that was called off with 21:37 remaining in the second half due to the mercy rule.
The Lady Bears’ Baylee Greenwood scored seven of the 11 goals, giving her a total of 65 for the season. Nele Gorres added two scores, with Olivia Malone and Jessica Bevard picking up the other two. Assists were also easy to come by against East Wilkes (8-10), with Bevard collecting four, Allie Sechrist three, Gorres two and Gabbi Troutman one.
With a very challenging opponent coming up in the second round, Mount Airy (15-7-1 overall) was eager to take care of business in the first round and keep everyone well-rested. Greenwood went directly to the attack after the opening kick-off, and after shaking three different Wilkes defenders, scored the opening goal after just 52 seconds of game action.
However, the Lady Cardinals came to play, and for as long as they could, made a competitive match out of this. With the hosts having some problems defending leading scorer Ciara Pierce, East Wilkes was able to have its fair share of possession time, and it wasn’t until early in the 12th minute before the Lady Bears scored again. This one was courtesy of Gorres, who put a shot on goal that it appeared as if the Lady Cardinal keeper had made the save on. However, she had retreated into her own goal to stop the shot, and so her “save” came after the ball had broken the plane of the goal. The official awarded Gorres the goal and a 2-0 lead for the Lady Bears.
However, about 90 seconds later, Pierce struck back for the visitors. A long ball went over the Mount Airy defense and Pierce ran it down. The Lady Bears’ Kora Ledezma tried to run her down, but couldn’t do it, and Pierce was able to beat Mount Airy keeper Samantha Stewart one-on-one for what was little more than a penalty kick. Mount Airy head coach Will Hurley was visibly upset with how the goal had occurred, and made some adjustments to the defense in order to keep Pierce in check.
The switches were successful, and East Wilkes was unable to keep up with Mount Airy from that point on.
“We made some changes, and even though they got one more goal, we were playing really good defense from that point on with Kora, Kamya Rose, Olivia Wilson, Gabbi Troutman and Cheyenne Allen,” Hurley said. “The most important thing was that we kept 7 (Pierce) from getting any more breakaways.”
The Lady Bears poured it on offensively in the last 25 minutes of the first half and led 7-2 at intermission. They picked up the necessary four additional goals after the break, and the referee blew his whistle to end the match in the 59th minute of play.
Mount Airy will travel to Community School of Davidson (21-1) for the second round on Saturday evening. CSD, the champions of the Southern Piedmont 1A and the defending state champions, beat Avery County in the first round on Wednesday.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.