DOBSON — Surry Central started off soccer season with a bang in more ways than one by defeating the North Iredell Raiders 2-1. The awe-inspiring melody of players colliding, whistles blowing, and crowd celebrations set the bar high for the 2017 season.
The game began with excellent spacing by the Raiders as they seemed to move as a cohesive unit across the field. Central’s keeper, Antonio Antunez, certainly had his work cut out for him as the North Iredell offense pelted shots continuously. In the first half alone, Iredell put up seven shots in addition to three corner kicks, forcing Antunez and the entire Eagle back line to constantly be on their toes.
Though outgunned on the offensive front, Central was able to keep the ball in the middle third of the field for a good portion of the first half. In the 28th minute, the Eagles’ Luis Padilla crossed the ball into Raider territory for Hernan Garcia to put into the back of the net.
Central coach Blake Roth applauded his team’s efficiency in light of being outshot by a margin of 14-8.
“I actually think North Iredell was probably the more dangerous team, but we capitalized on our chances,” Roth said. “Defensively we held up very well, especially considering the fact that our two starting center backs go out in the first half for the rest of the game.”
It was in the 34th minute that tensions started to rise between the two teams. Neither team was playing dirty, but they certainly turned up the aggression. Seven to five was the foul count after the first 40 minutes, with the Raiders leading in that category.
North Iredell wasted no time getting back into the action after halftime. An early flurry by the Eagles was followed by 10 straight minutes of Raider offense, targeting the goal five times in that span. But just like in the first half, Surry Central capitalized on their offensive opportunities to increase its lead. A free kick found its way to Luis Padilla’s head before being directed to Axel Rangel, who scored the Eagles’ second goal of the evening.
Though the teams were wearing white and red, respectively, the color yellow would dominate the next 20 minutes of play. Three consecutive yellow cards were awarded to Surry Central players for various infractions, with another Eagle being presented one with just minutes remaining in the game.
Roth was less than satisfied with his players’ decisions in the second half.
“I expected our kids to be able to keep it together a little bit more,” Roth said. “We had some stupid fouls and yellow cards. We don’t pick up stupid yellow cards — if we are going to get them, we are going to earn them.”
But the Eagles weren’t the only team getting the referee’s attention. Raider Coach Tyler Carter received a yellow card following a verbal confrontation with the official. Hunter Ketchie, a Raider junior, originally received a yellow card due to a scuffle with a Surry Central player, but was upgraded to the night’s sole red card after a conversation between officials.
Raider senior Hunter Cape kept North Iredell in the game with a late goal, but the Eagles held to start the season with a win. Despite being outshot 14-8, Surry Central’s defense combined with offensive efficiency lifted the Eagles over the Raiders.
Surry Central (1-0) will host Hibriten (0-0) Thursday as the Eagles look to continue their home success before five straight away matches. North Iredell (0-1) will host its first home game of the season against Ledford Senior (1-0) Thursday.