KING — East Surry entered Wednesday’s match at West Stokes with a chance to equal the Cardinals’ win total of the past two seasons by Week 3 of the 2018 campaign. Although the Cards failed to grab a win, a 0-0 tie keeps the team undefeated at 4-0-2.
West (2-1-2) suffered its only loss of the season in a 2-1 opener against East Surry on August 13. Since then, the Wildcats have defeated South Stokes twice by an aggregate 6-0 and tied Wilkes Central 3-3. The Cardinals followed up the opening win over West with back-to-back blowouts against Elkin and East Wilkes, a tie with Surry Central, and another big win over Elkin.
MaxPreps currently has East as the fifth-ranked 1A team in the state, smack dab in the middle of fellow Northwest 1A Conference foes Mount Airy (3) and 2017 1A State Champions Bishop McGuinness (7).
The Cardinals struggled to find the back of the net in Wednesday’s match despite winning the possession battle for most of the night. As early as the fourth minute, Leo De la Cruz and Nick Lowery worked the ball up the left sideline to try to cross the ball. The Wildcat back line prevented Cruz from putting the ball inside the 18-yard box.
West Stokes was not without its own opportunities in first half. Dangerously long throw-ins required East’s Ryan Wagoner to elevate and clear the ball. Wagoner, along with Gonzalo Chavez and Jacob Lowe on the back line, worked to keep Ethan Casstevens from having to work too hard in goal.
Anderson Allred served as the distributor in the first half. He took the ball from the defense and spread the field by getting Cruz and Juan Ramirez touches on the wings. Chris Osario and Brady Jessup also got in on the shooting action but failed to get past the Cats’ keeper.
East Surry had all 10 field players in Wildcat territory around minute 22 and kept the ball there for a while. Chavez spoiled the Cats’ counterattacks and sent the ball through to Jessup and Cruz, but the West keeper was quick to cut the runs off. East spent the remainder of the half in control, but still couldn’t score.
Jessup broke free of the defense in the second half’s opening minute and crossed the ball inside the 18. Ramirez got a piece of the ball after it was deflected by the keeper, but the shot soared well over the crossbar.
West saw its best chance to score on a free kick 25 yards out. Casstevens just managed to get a finger on the ball and deflect it over for a corner. Casstevens also foiled the corner kick and kick-started an East counterattack. Allred split defenders up the center before setting Cruz up for a shot that once again went off-target.
Relying heavily on counterattacks, West earned a number or corner kicks and deep throw-ins when they caught the Cardinal defense out of position. The issue for West, however, was that the Cardinal backs and Seth Lowe would crash the ball on corners and send it back up field.
East played similar to the end of the first half by maintaining possession on West’s half. Costly handling calls went against the Wildcats whenever they managed to clear the ball. Chavez and Seth Lowe put free kicks at West’s keeper, but couldn’t get it past him.
The two teams did battle up until the final whistle, each threatening to score the winning goal, but it wasn’t to be. At the end of 80 minutes the score read nil-nil for the second tie of each team’s season.
East Surry returns home to face Surry Central (1-1-2) on September 5, and the Wildcats will host Bishop McGuinness (3-2-1) on September 4.
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith