SPARTA — 2017 was a historic year for Mount Airy soccer. The Bears finished with a record 23 wins, reached the Western Regional Final before falling to the eventual champions, and had two players named to the North Carolina Soccer Coaches Association 1A All-State team.
As great as the past has been for the Granite Bears, coach Will Hurley is laser-focused on the year ahead. So far, it’s worked. Mount Airy sits at 3-0 just one week into the season and has outscored opponents 26-1 in all road games.
Mount Airy returns nine seniors to the 2018 squad: Dante Collins, Jesus Valadez, Christian Vernon, Austin Tumbarello, Anthony Buneo, Chris Cogdill, Jesus Lachino, Marc Garcia and Daniel Troutman.
Austin Tumbarello led the Northwest 1A Conference with 42 goals in 2017 and showed no signs of slowing down in the past week. He has netted a total of eight goals and added two assists in the Bears’ three games this season.
Hurley said Austin has improved his speed and aggressiveness immensely from last season to now.
“He has turned it up a notch. He’s as fast as I’ve ever seen him,” Hurley said.
Three of Austin’s eight season goals came in Mount Airy’s 9-0 victory over Alleghany Monday. Liam Overby also had a hat trick in the victory over the Trojans, with Jackson Tumbarello, Kaleb Morrison and Brandon Osorno each adding a goal. Jesus Lachino had two assists in Monday’s game. Drew Tilley, Jared Easter, Bryan Valadez, Osorno, Overby, Baelin Watson and Austin Tumbarello each had one assist.
Easter is among the younger Bears making his mark on the field. Hurley spoke of Easter’s effort in the win over Alleghany.
“He wasn’t playing the scoreboard. We’re up 9-0, and it’s like we’re losing, he’s playing that hard.”
While the Bears are ultimately shooting for a return to the Final Four, Hurley wants his team to focus on each game as it comes. However, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have goals in mind for the team.
“I’d like to see us get as many all-state players as possible. It’s hard as a 1A to get three, but I think our guys are good enough.”
Mount Airy travels to Ashe County (0-1-1) on Thursday.
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith