Coach Will Hurley muttered a single word to encapsulate the rush of emotions he felt Tuesday night. Mount Airy’s hard-fought victory over conference foe Bishop McGuinness advanced the Granite Bears to 12-0. The Bears battled from a 2-1 deficit in the second half to win 4-2.
“I’m so, so proud of my kids,” Hurley said. “They just never give up.”
Hurley said he expected a dogfight coming into the game and his prediction was spot-on. The teams went at it from the opening whistle and never let up. A total of 19 fouls were called, and the official issued five yellow cards, including one to each coach.
Mount Airy fired the first figurative and literal shot of the game when Austin Tumbarello chased down the Villains’ opening kickoff. Despite the opening flurry by the home team, Bishop countered and maintained possession on the opposite end of the field in the minutes to come. Bishop McGuinness executed excellent passes to advance the ball.
Early fouls would prove detrimental to the visiting Villains. A free kick was awarded to Mount Airy in minute 10 about 35 yards from the Bishop goal. The sideline official reported a foul in the box by a Villain during the free kick, which gave Mount Airy a penalty kick. Robert Brown’s initial shot was stopped by the opposing keeper, but Brown followed his shot and directed it into the goal for the first score of the match. The Bishop coach was unhappy with the call and received a yellow card for his comments.
Mount Airy usually dominates the possession game against opponents, but not in this match. Bishop played a similar defense-first style that exploited holes in the opposing defense. The Villains spent much of the half in scoring position, but couldn’t finish. A header by a Bishop player among a sea of blue and white jerseys soared at the Bears’ goal but went just north of the crossbar.
Though forced to play a different style of offense, Mount Airy was still able to make quick counterattacks that gave Austin Tumbarello and Jarrett Jimenez multiple scoring opportunities. The Bears nearly extended their lead when Julio Contreras crossed a ball to Bryan Valadez. Valadez’s header scared the goalie, but flew wide right.
With as many shots as the Villains took in the first half, it was only a matter of time before one made it past Jesus Valadez. This occurred in the closing minutes of the first half to tie the game at 1-1. The Bears are not a team that usually go into rest mode and continued fighting, perhaps a little too hard. Jesus Lachino and Austin Tumbarello both received yellow cards in the final five minutes of the first half.
The second half featured a plethora of offense from both sides, but what was more impressive was the defensive prowess executed on both ends. Bishop McGuinness’ David Molen and Mount Airy’s Jackson Tumbarello engaged in a full-field game of pong, stopping a run and sending it back the other way over and over. Jackson Tumbarello was one of the key factors for the Granite Bears, keeping the Villains from taking the lead early in the second half. Bishop spent a lot of time in the Bears’ box, and Tumbarello and friends sent them packing empty-handed.
Once again, the Bishop offense proved to be too much for Mount Airy when the Villains regained the lead off an Andrew Desalvo goal in minute 59. Trailing for only the second time this season, Mount Airy didn’t fold and only took four minutes to even the score when Luis Osorno found Austin Tumbarello on a cross. The scoreboard now read 2-2.
The game picked up, and so did the foul count. Players were going at it physically and verbally in a back-and-forth affair in which neither side would bend. Bishop nearly created a one-on-one situation with the Mount Airy keeper, but Jesus Luna put his body on the line to clear the ball out of the danger zone.
The Villains received a penalty kick in the 69th minute and Mount Airy was livid. Both Hurley and Brown received yellow cards. Just when it seemed Bishop had the advantage, Jesus Valadez blocked the PK and sent the ball to Austin Tumbarello, who took it the distance in the other direction and put the Bears up 3-2.
Mount Airy switched to the defensive, while Bishop’s sole purpose was to tie the game. Austin Tumbarello was brought back for extra help on defense. With less than one minute left, Tumbarello took a chance and charged at the Villain keeper, intercepted a pass, and put the game away with his third goal of the match. The crowd went wild and Hurley could sit down and reflect on the achievement.
Earlier this season, Hurley achieved his 200th win as a head coach. With plenty of quality wins to his name, Hurley ranked this as one of his most important and satisfying wins ever.
Mount Airy looks to continue their “One game at a time” mentality when they face rival East Surry on Thursday.
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith