Despite having a record of 19-1-1, the Mount Airy Bears had to settle for a wild-card bid in the state playoffs due to Bishop McGuinness winning the Northwest 1A Athletic Conference’s top seed. The Bears entered the tournament as the 12th seed in the West Regional.
But Mount Airy’s low placement wouldn’t stop them from exerting their dominance over Alleghany for the third time this season. The Granite Bears’ 9-0 victory brings the total amount of goals they scored on the Trojans this season to an astounding 20.
Following a loss to Bishop McGuinness in late October, coach Will Hurley said the Bears had to get back to mid-season form to have a shot in the playoffs. Hurley stressed the importance of controlling possession, finishing on shot opportunities, and playing with a defense-first attitude.
The Granite Bears came out of the gates firing. Robert Brown controlled the pace of the game, keeping constant pressure on the Alleghany defenders. The Trojan defenders were able to survive an early onslaught from Mount Airy by closing out before the Bears could shoot.
Mount Airy would soon break through back line on a run by Austin Tumbarello. Austin and Trojan keeper Kevin Trujillo collided in the box, sending the ball to the feet of Jarrett Jimenez to shoot. Jimenez put the Bears up just six minutes into the game. Trujillo would leave the game with an injury and would not return.
Alleghany’s offensive runs were few and far between. Leaving only two men up front, the Trojan strikers were quickly suppressed by Brown and Jackson Tumbarello. The Trojans managed to make it into the Bears’ box by bringing up the midfield players, but were unable to get off a shot.
Austin Tumbarello added to the Bears’ lead in minute nine. The striker received a throw-in and sped past numerous defenders before placing the ball past the Trojans’ new keeper.
Alleghany did make a run following Mount Airy’s second goal. Despite the Trojans keeping the ball on the opposite side of the field for a few minutes, a quick counterattack by the Bears added another goal from Austin Tumbarello.
Having figured out the Alleghany defense, it seemed the only people who could stop Mount Airy were…themselves. A free kick by the Bears’ Dante Collins connected with the head of Jesus Lachino. Lachino’s shot was headed toward the Alleghany goal, but hit Brown in the back. This act of unintentional defense will likely be forgiven considering the game’s outcome.
A scoring drought would occur over the next 10-15 minutes for the Bears. Getting shots wasn’t as much the problem as putting them on target. With the exception of a 40-yard field goal by Jackson Tumbarello, many of Mount Airy’s shots were less than two feet wide of the frame. On target or not, the shot count rose for the Bears, while the Trojans’ stayed the same.
The scoreless streak was broken in minute 26, when Luis Osorno crossed the ball to Jimenez to finish. Not to be outdone, Bryan Valadez took a pass from Austin Tumbarello and fired it past the Trojan keeper less than a minute later. Back-to-back goals by Mount Airy increased its lead to five.
Despite two late corner kicks by the Bears, their lead would stay at 5-0 for the rest of the half. Alleghany threatened to score with time winding down with only one defender to beat. Christian Vernon stood tall on the Mount Airy back line and cleared the ball as time ran out, keeping the shutout alive.
Hurley’s squad may have now featured some younger faces, but the effort was the same as when the scoreboard read 0-0. Luis Osorno had the shot of the night in minute 43, sending a laser shot from 40 yards out at the Alleghany goal. The shot was so fast and so hard it was difficult for the referee to determine if it was a goal or not. Regardless, Austin Tumbarello kicked the ball into the net just to be sure.
Now up 6-0, the Bears fired shots from seemingly all over the field. Midfielders pulled the trigger anywhere inside 30 yards. The Mount Airy defense even got involved, pressing well past midfield. What little offense Alleghany mustered in the first half was reduced to almost nothing in the second.
Five corner kicks were taken by the Bears in the second half, showing the true degree of their offensive presence. Not to mention the second half only lasted 19 minutes.
Sophomore Kaleb Morrison joined in on the scoring party to put the Bears up 7-0. Dominoes continued to fall as goals number eight and nine followed soon after. The first saw Brown take a pass from Lachino and score from well outside the 18-yard box. The final goal of the match came from Anselmo Salazar, once again from a Lachino assist.
Austin Tumbarello led the Bears with two goals and two assists, with Jimenez as the only other Bear to record two goals. Valadez and Osorno each achieved one goal and one assist. Lachino tied Austin Tumbarello in assists with two. Morrison, Brown, and Salazar each recorded one goal.
Mount Airy (20-1-1) advances to the second round and will hit the road to face Lincoln Charter (13-5) on Saturday.
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith