DOBSON —MaxPreps has records of every meeting between East Surry and Surry Central on the soccer field since 2012. Of those 13 meetings, the Golden Eagles outscored East 53-7 on their way to victories in each of the first 12.
Then came lucky number 13. Held last night at Surry Central High, the Eagles failed to walk away victorious for the first time. A scoreless second half resulted in a 1-1 tie between the Eagles and Cardinals.
“Before the game, I mentioned to the kids that it’s been 19-20 years and East had never had a piece of us and drew a target on a white board,” said Central coach Blake Roth. “I said ‘they don’t care about number on a back, they just see this on the back of your jersey.’ They have gotten off to a great start this year and they have a lot of confidence.”
The shot count heavily favored Surry Central. The same can be said about time of possession and time spent in the opponent’s third. East Surry’s strategy wasn’t to out-shoot or out-possess the Eagles. Rather, the Cardinals relied heavily on defense and took advantage of counterattacks.
East’s “bend-don’t-break” philosophy worked like a charm against Central’s attacking-based offense, Roth said.
“The strategy was obvious: bunker, bunker, bunker, then counter. It’s a very effective strategy,”Roth said. Seth (Lowe) and Gonzalo (Chavez) did an outstanding job tonight, and they complement each other well. We pounded most of the game. Possession is not a stat on the scoreboard, and by the time we decided we actually want to come together and do what we wanted to do, it was too late.”
The first 20 minutes of the match were spent almost entirely in the Cardinals’ third. Central’s Axel Rangel, Nolan McMillen, and Chaco Sanchez fired shot after shot at East Surry’s goal. A few deflected off the goal posts, while others were tipped away by East keeper Ethan Casstevens. Roth had high praises for Casstevens, saying the sophomore had a great game with a number of crucial stops on quality shots.
Brady Jessup was the Cardinals’ lone attacking player at times as the defense and midfield focused on containment. The ball occasionally bounced his way, but never enough to make the Central keeper sweat.
It wasn’t until the 20th minute that Anderson Allred found a streaking Juan Rameriz up the left sideline. Though Rameriz didn’t get a shot off, his run sparked 10 minutes of offense controlled by East Surry. Chris Osario and Jacob Lowe each had shot opportunities from outside 30 yards, but each went wide of the target. Leo De la Cruz was the first to put a shot on target in minute 25, but it was saved. Even when Central put the ball back into Cardinal territory, Chavez and Seth Lowe cleared it back to Cruz and Jessup.
It only took one open look for Central to re-establish dominance. A through ball to Edgar Vega with just 45 seconds on the clock found its way past Casstevens and into the back of the net. It seemed as if the Eagles would go into halftime with the lead, until East was awarded a free kick at midfield with time quickly running off the clock. Chavez took aim and fired a shot much further than any defender anticipated. The ball soared to the edges of the keeper’s reach. The teams could just watch as the ball went into the goal and tied the game 1-1.
Central looked to regain the lead early in the second half. Rangel took a corner just two minutes in and managed to connect with McMillen, but the shot was saved. Rangel and McMillen each had looks at the goal, but each was thwarted by Casstevens.
Allred spearheaded a counterattack for the Cards’ first threatening run 10 minutes into the second half. Allred caught the keeper off-guard with a shot from 35+ yards. The ball soared just over the crossbar and into the field goal posts.
Similar to the first half, Central dominated possession for the first 20 or so minutes. Once fatigue set in for the Eagles, East went on the attack. Allred and Nick Lowery created runs in the midfield and managed long shots to test the keeper. Ryan Wagoner and Jacob Lowe protected the outside while sending the ball to Cardinal attackers.
The ball bounced back-and-forth between 18’s until the final whistle. There were a number of instances where the game could’ve ended, but neither defense would cave, resulting in a 1-1 final decision.
“It obviously hurts,” Roth said. “But as much as it hurts right now, this might be exactly what we need. We’re just going to have to step up at every position, whether it be an All-Conference player or one of the seniors that didn’t play a whole lot last year. I hope they don’t forget this game, but I also hope we don’t dwell upon it.”
Roth went onto say that this is probably the most athletic East Surry team he’s ever faced, and that he’s sure the team is looking forward to the rematch on September 5.
East Surry continued its red-hot start to the season by improving to 3-0-1. East has a very good chance of tying their aggregate win total from the past two season (5) in the next two games. The Cards face two teams they’ve already defeated this season, Elkin and West Stokes. Surry Central sits at 1-0-1 and will host North Forsyth on Thursday.
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith