Monday games are usually a cause of dread for local soccer teams. Players often go two full days without touching a soccer ball after a light Friday practice, leaving them unprepared for the next contest.
But for the Mount Airy Bears, playing a Monday game came at just the right time. The Granite Bears (12-1, 2-0) played just two days prior in a rare Friday night game against East Surry. Mount Airy coach Will Hurley referred to the schedule as the “greatest thing in the world,” for his team.
“That was the greatest practice we could have possibly had to get ready for this game,” Hurley said. “I figured we’d come in more focused than most Mondays. That was the difference, in how we came out.”
Mount Airy came of the gate swinging against North Surry (6-4-1) and didn’t stop until the final whistle. It took just 40 seconds for the Bears to get on the scoreboard thanks to a handling call on North inside their own 18. Bryan Valadez converted on a penalty kick to put Mount Airy up 1-0.
It didn’t take long for the Bears to increase the lead. Drew Tilley sent a through ball past North’s back line at 6’. Austin Tumbarello engaged in a footrace with the Hounds’ Grant Whittington. Austin came out just ahead of Whittington inside the 18 before scoring his first goal of the night.
Before North had time to react, Mount Airy scored another goal. Kaleb Morrison had a steal in the Hounds’ defense and dished it to Austin Tumbarello for his second goal just three minutes after his first.
North Surry was forced to play with nine men back for most of the first half. Vincent Hernandez patrolled the midfield for the Greyhounds, but would often retreat on defense when Mount Airy made a run. Isaiah Holcomb was the lone striker for the better part of 40 minutes.
The Hounds finally mounted a run at 11’ when Joseph Rangel started a counterattack. Rangel led Adrian Cabrera to the left corner and although he failed to get a shot off, North kept pressure on the Mount Airy defense. Vincent and Kevin Hernandez kept the ball on Mount Airy’s half, with Vincent even taking the Hounds’ first shot.
Mount Airy’s defense protected keeper Jesus Valadez from having to make saves in the first half. Jackson Tumbarello was the Bears’ stopper and played laterally to prevent North Surry from sending through balls up the middle.
Both Cole Richardson and Scott Shore earned their paycheck with stops on each sideline for North Surry. However, Austin Tumbarello made it 4-0 by completing his hat trick at 21’.
Bryan Valadez made it 5-0 at the half with a goal that was assisted by Liam Overby.
Where Mount Airy’s preparation came from playing just two days prior, North Surry suffered from having played just twice in 11 days. Coach Eric Jessup tried to stay positive at the half by telling his team to focus on winning the next 40 minutes.
The Greyhounds came into the second half with new life. Vincent Hernandez got the Hounds in the Bears’ box within 30 seconds, but was unable to get a shot on goal. Kevin Hernandez made up for it with 45-yard free kick that gave Jesus Valadez his first true test of the day.
It was a long first three minutes for Mount Airy as they tried to keep North Surry scoreless. In classic Bears fashion, they quickly created a counterattack and scored on their first shot of the half. JJ Lachino, the midfield distributor for Mount Airy, set Morrison up for his first goal of the night to make it 6-0.
Both Austin Tumbarello and Bryan Valadez had shots on frame after the goal, but both were saved by Carson Draughn. The Bears maintained possession for most of the second half but failed to find the back of the net again for another 23 minutes.
Bryan Valadez took a break from scoring to get his first assist of the night. At 66’, Bryan sent a low cross through North Surry’s box. After soaring across the 18 untouched, Brandon Osorno finished on the pass to make it 7-0.
Mount Airy keeper Jesus Valadez has only allowed seven goals all season. He has eight shutouts on the season and was less than 15 minutes away from number nine when North scored its first goal of the night.
Dalessandro Raya fired a shot from outside the 18 with just 13 minutes left in the match. Jesus Valadez managed to knock the shot down, but a Bear defender accidentally deflected the ball into his own goal to make it 7-1.
Osorno capped off the 8-1 victory with a 35-foot goal. Osorno’s second goal of the night kept him on pace with Bryan Valadez for the second-most goals of the season with 10. Austin Tumbarello leads the Bears with 23 goals.
Mount Airy’s win Monday night puts them at 12-1 heading into Thursday’s clash with Bishop McGuinness. Bishop was the only team to defeat the Bears last season, once in the regular season and then in the Western Regional final. The Villains (12-2-1, 1-0) have won 10 straight matches and have outscored opponents 74-3 in that span.
“We’ve got to really work on some things,” Hurley said. “We’re just really going to have to talk more when we play Bishop. That’s bigger than anything, communication.“
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith