The Granite Bears claimed their first conference win in soccer with an 8-1 blowout of Atkins on Thursday night.
Mount Airy improved to 8-5-1 overall and 1-1 in the Northwest Conference, getting back to .500 in league action after a close 3-1 loss at Bishop McGuinness last week.
Not only did the Bears play a perennially tough Villains squad in recent games, but the team also faced strong 2A schools Surry Central, North Surry and West Stokes in the previous five matches. The Bears went 1-3-1 in that stretch after posting a six-match winning streak from the end of August to early September.
The Bears got back to their winning ways in the one-sided match with Atkins.
After opening the season with three losses, the Camels had gone 3-4. Atkins coach David Hebert reminded his players before the match that they had outscored their previous five opponents — 15 goals for to 14 goals against.
Then the Camels drew first blood with a score just a few minutes into the game.
The goal came off a fast transition. Mount Airy was on the attack. Jose Perez took the ball up the left side and got off a shot, but the keeper batted it down. A defender cleared the ball out, and Atkins raced up the sideline going the other way. Before the Bears’ defense could get back, the Atkins forward pulled ahead of Daniel Garcia, beat keeper Jesus Orozco, and put the ball in the net before Garcia could cover for the keeper.
That lead didn’t last long. Just a few minutes later, the Bears were on the attack, and senior Jeremy Chappell put the ball away for a 1-1 tie with 32 minutes left in the first half.
Only about 50 seconds later, Mount Airy scored again. The home team got off a shot on goal that was batted down, then a second shot appeared to hit the post before a third try found the net for a 2-1 lead.
A few minutes later, the Bears tacked on another goal off a corner kick. Playing the ball in from the right side, Mount Airy floated a ball toward the middle of the goal. The keeper mistimed his jump and missed the ball, and Austin Tumbarello knocked it into the goal.
The Bears earned that corner kick because Chappell had outrun the defense up the right side and had a pass knocked out the baseline.
Minutes later, he did the same thing, rushing out ahead of the defense. Although Atkins stopped that break, Mount Airy kept the pressure on and eventually got a shot on goal from Chappell. On a low screamer to the left corner, the keeper got a hand on the ball, but couldn’t stop it from trickling into the net.
With five and a half minutes left in the half, the Bears went up 5-1 when Matthew Dodd, sporting a cast on his left arm, got free for a look and booted it past the keeper.
In the second half, Chappell scored another goal for the hat trick.
Robert Brown hit a hard corner kick that bounced off a defender into the goal for a score.
Jose Perez put up the final score with 15 minutes left.
In the previous match with Bishop, the Bears were staying right with the conference leader for most of the game, said coach Will Hurley.
Then, in a 20-minute stretch, Bishop’s Brandon Linares scored three times for a 3-1 win.
“The team just stopped communicating,” said Hurley. And it paid the price.
“The boys seemed to have learned their lesson, because this match was the best job of communicating that they have done all season,” he said. “That allowed them to play good team ball.
“Keeping the chatter going allows the defense to mark players and lets the dribbler know who is sneaking up on him,” Hurley noted.
Next week, the Bears have two conference matches against dangerous opponents. Both East Surry and Walkertown have losing records overall, but Walkertown has lost to some very good 2A teams and East Surry always gets pumped up for Mount Airy, said Hurley.
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