GREENSBORO — Will Hurley, Holden Hurley and Austin Tumbarello are in the same spot they were on this weekend a year ago.
The three representatives of Mount Airy High School’s boys’ soccer program played for the Midwest Region team at the Powerade State Games of North Carolina a year ago, and split their matches on day one to set up a battle for a spot in the medal round on day two. This year, Austin’s younger brother Jackson joined the team, and all four of them saw history repeat on Saturday morning.
In their first match of the day, the Midwest failed to capitalize on several opportunities and was blanked 3-0 by the Central team, representing Raleigh and the Triangle area. Then they bounced back that afternoon, taking a 3-2 come-from-behind win over the West team, which represents Asheville and the mountain regions.
This puts the Midwest into the second and final day of play sitting on three points. The Southeast won both of its matches on Saturday and leads everyone with six points. Central, which tied the South in its second match, is second with four points. The Midwest and West are tied on three points each. The South has just the one point from its draw with Central, and the Northeast is winless in two matches and pointless.
Going into Sunday, the Midwest could conceivably see its day end after the 9 a.m. match with the Southeast on the main field at the UNCG Soccer Stadium, or it could play for the gold or bronze medals, depending on the outcome of the other morning matches. If the team knocks off the Southeast, it could rematch that team for the gold medal later in the day, but could end up in the bronze medal match if Central beats the Northeast in the 9 a.m. match on the practice field. But the final standings won’t be determined until the West plays the South at 10:45 a.m. in the stadium.
“If we win, we have a chance to play for the gold medal,” said head coach Will Hurley. “I have no idea how good the (Southeast) is. They’re 2-0, but both of their games were close and low-scoring.”
The Southeast team beat the South 2-1 in their opener, played at the same time that the Midwest was losing 3-0 to Central. Later in the day, they played the Northeast and won 2-0.
The loss to Central was a lot like the opener last year, when Hurley’s team opened up on Central’s home turf at the WRAL Soccer Center in Raleigh. The Midwest had chances, but couldn’t get the ball into the net.
“We kept hitting the crossbar, hitting the high post, the low post, everything but the back of the net,” he said. “We had five chances in the first half that I thought were going to be goals, and we didn’t score. Then we started making a lot of mistakes we shouldn’t have, and they beat us. We possessed the ball more than they did, but we couldn’t score.”
For Sunday to have much meaning, they had to beat the West team over on the practice field at 2:15 in the afternoon. The West had already beaten the Northeast 3-1 earlier in the day, and it wasn’t easy.
The West took a 1-0 lead early on, when a deflected ball went off a Midwest defender and into the net for an own-goal — another mishap the team had suffered a year ago. However, Austin Tumbarello led the charge on the equalizer, pushing the ball ahead to teammate Brandon Linares (Bishop McGuinness), who crossed to Giovanni Lagnerini (Page) for the tying goal. Both Tumbarello and Linares were credited with assists.
The West regained the lead at 2-1 after scoring off a corner kick, but then Linares and Lagnerini both scored, rallying the Midwest to the win.
“Austin and Jackson both played very well in that match,” said Hurley. “It was really good soccer, played at a high level. And it was good to have those Bishop players on my side.”
The Villains, who battle the Granite Bears for conference supremacy almost every season, furnished Hurley with Nathan Joseph, David Molen and Alan Linares in addition to Brandon Linares.
If the Midwest makes the medal round, they will play at 2:30 this afternoon. If they’re in the gold medal match, it will be in the Soccer Stadium, and if it’s the bronze medal match, that will be on the practice field.
“If we play for the bronze, we might be playing Central again, just like last year,” said Hurley, whose team rematched Central for the bronze last year in Raleigh. The teams played to a 2-2 draw, but the Midwest won the shootout and claimed the medals.