PILOT MOUNTAIN — Mount Airy soccer clinched a share of first place with a 10-1 drubbing of East Surry in their regular-season finale.
The Granite Bears scored about seven minutes in and kept up the attack to sour the Cardinals’ Senior Night.
Mount Airy improved to 7-1 in the Northwest and 15-5-1 overall in coach Will Hurley’s second title team in three seasons as the boys’ coach. He also has coached the girls team for five seasons.
“This is a really good season the guys have had,” said Hurley. “Four of the five losses were games that we were in.” He noted that three of those losses were by just one or two scores.
He said he is very proud of his team for the way it rebounded from a midseason slump.
After opening the season with two one-score losses to a couple of 2A schools, the Bears ripped off six straight wins, scoring 7.1 goals a game.
Against a good 2A Surry Central team, the Bears managed a 5-5 tie. But then the Bears dropped a 4-1 match to 2A West Stokes.
After beating North Surry 4-1, the Bears lost the rematch to the Golden Eagles 7-1, the only one-sided defeat of their season.
In the conference opener, the Bears lost 4-1 to Bishop McGuinness, their only defeat to a 1A school.
Rather than hang their heads, they swept the rest of the league schedule, Hurley noted.
Including a non-conference victory over Elkin, the Bears are riding an eight-match winning streak. That high-octane offense is back, too, scoring 55 goals (almost seven per game) in the stretch.
Topping Bishop by a shot in the second meeting allowed the Bears to clinch a tie for the conference crown.
Rather than have first place decided by a coin toss, the two teams have chosen to hold a 10-man penalty kick shootout.
Mount Airy and East Surry did this two years ago, which resulted in a big fan turnout and plenty of cheering.
“The fans really got into it,” said Hurley, “and it’s just better to let the players decide it rather than a coin flip.”
This was one of several soccer matches throughout the region that were moved up to avoid the rain expected later in the week.
If weather allows, the Bears will travel to Bishop for the shootout on Wednesday at 5 p.m. If the event is postponed, the teams will meet Thursday at 4:30 p.m.
After that, the Northwest coaches will meet on Saturday to discuss all-conference selections. Then the coaches will discuss all-region teams.
With all the games wrapping up this week, the N.C. High School Athletic Association should release its playoff brackets on Monday.
Hurley said he expects the Community School of Davidson to get the top seed. Either Bishop or Mount Airy should get at least two or three home dates as the top Northwest team. Even the second-place team should get one or two home matches, because the Bears and Villains both have run up impressive overall records this season.
Typically the first week of the state playoffs has games on Wednesday and Saturday, said Hurley.
As for this match, Hurley said Austin Tumbarello got the ball rolling with a goal about seven minutes in.
Tumbarello would finish with two goals and two assists.
Julio Contreras had two goals as well. Gentry Williamson, Matthew Dodd, Jose Pereze, Jeremy Chappell and Malcolm Malone had one each.
Backup keeper Brian Hernandez got a goal, his second of the season, with the visiting crowd going wild, the coach said.
Chappell had two assists like Tumbarello, while one assist each came from Robert Brown, Cooper Nester, Williamson and Dodd.
Keeper Jesus Orozco made two goal saves.