DOBSON — The Surry Central Golden Eagles ended their three-game winless streak with a 3-2 win over West Iredell. The Eagles’ journey to being one of the area’s most dangerous soccer teams will be a rough road, but coach Blake Roth said his team is trending in the right direction after Thursday’s match.
“I’m glad to have a close game and actually come out on top,” Roth said. “It was a bittersweet win since they had to play a man down, but we’ll take it and move on.”
Roth’s reference to the Warriors (2-2-2) playing down a man was the result of a straight red card in the first half. Central’s Nolan McMillen was shielding off a defender when the two collided. The West Iredell player made it to his feet first and was seen standing over McMillen similar to how Muhammad Ali stood over Sonny Liston.
Roth said he didn’t know if it was for language or taunting, but before he knew, it the referee pulled out a red card and the Warriors had to play the remainder of the match a man down.
The eventful first half continued when the 10-man squad of West Iredell took a 1-0 lead. A cross entered the Eagles’ box from the right sideline in minute 15. A fake shot and pass to the far post saw an open Warrior place the ball past Central keeper Johnny Garcia.
West’s lead was short-lived thanks to Central’s Daniel Orozco. About 45 seconds after the Warriors’ goal, Orozco was set up with a free kick 40 yards removed from the West Iredell goal. Orozco sent a screamer hurling toward the net, and the keeper just managed to get a finger on the ball before it soared into the back of the net to tie the game 1-1.
Physicality built as the half went on, and halftime didn’t do much to ease tensions. A combined 17 fouls, two of which earned yellow cards, were committed in the second half.
An hour passed as the teams waited out a passing storm before resuming play with 38:57 left to play. Central had two opportunities early that nearly put them ahead in the match. A corner kick at minute 44 saw the ball bounce around the Warriors’ box before the keeper snatched it up. The second opportunity came when Andres Jaimes crossed the ball from the left side to Orlando Ocampo, and the ensuing shot flew just wide of the goal post.
Despite playing down a man, West Iredell was able to control the pace of the game for much of the second half. Roth stressed that his team has to do better under pressure if they want to continue competing in close games.
Central worked its way back into the game and began slowing the pace to fit its style. West had a number of speedy players that could control the ball, but by showing patience, the Eagles were able to stave off Warrior attacks.
Their patience paid off in minute 63 when Jason Rodriguez took a through ball from Axel Rangel and placed it past the Warrior keeper to take the first Golden Eagle lead of the night. Central built on to the lead 10 minutes later, when Erik Cruz found a streaking Jaimes inside the six-yard box. Jaimes finished the cross to take a 3-1 lead.
Surry Central slowed down play even more and focused on making attacks up the sidelines to keep West Iredell from scoring. The plan worked until West broke free and made it 3-2 with just 1:46 left to play.
It’s not uncommon in soccer for players to run into the goal and retrieve the ball when they’re in a hurry to come back. Two Warriors did this, but on the way had an altercation with Garcia in goal. This resulted in both Warriors receiving yellow cards.
It what seemed much longer than 1:46, the ball flew from one end of the field to the other before the final whistle signified the end of the match.
“I feel like we’re at the same place we are every year about this time, Roth said. “Usually we’ve struggled through games that we eventually won. We’ve been bit by the injury bug, and it sucks, but we’ve got to keep playing.”
Central improves to 2-1-2 and will host Starmount (0-3) on September 3.
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith