This was more like what Mount Airy soccer coach Will Hurley wanted to see from his team.
Coming off some recent lackluster performances, the Lady Bears were seeking a return to form in Tuesday’s Senior Day matchup with visiting North Stokes, and no one could complain about a 9-0 rout that ended an half-hour early and honored Allie Sechrist, Jessica Bevard, Jaden Brinkley and exchange student Nele Gorres for their contributions to the program.
“Senior Day seems to have really perked them up,” said Hurley. “I think now that the prom’s over, they’re focused on soccer again.”
Hurley saw his team playing offense so well in the first half that he effectively shut the Lady Bears down after Bevard scored in the 27th minute to give Mount Airy a 6-0 lead. At the time, the home team had scored three times in the previous two minutes, and it appeared as though the Lady Bears might invoke the mercy rule by intermission. Since Hurley wanted to give as many players as possible some time on the field, and even more because the Senior Day accolades were scheduled for halftime, Hurley immediately cleared his bench.
The move worked. Mount Airy’s reserves held their own with North Stokes over the remaining 13 minutes of the first half, but the score remained at 6-0.
“We really came out well today,” Hurley said. “We were ready to play.”
After halftime, the coach re-inserted all of his starting lineup, and the goals started coming again. After just 17 seconds of play, Bevard was upended about 20 yards from the Lady Vikings’ goal, but the visitors somehow avoided a penalty call. It didn’t matter, because before the 41st minute was over, Baylee Greenwood had her fourth goal of the match.
The Lady Bears (12-7-1, 5-4 Northwest 1A Conference) kept pouring it on. Three and a half minutes into the second half, Olivia Malone found the back of the net for the second time, giving Mount Airy an 8-0 lead.
With an early exit impending, North Stokes turned up the intensity and managed to possess the ball for a few minutes in the Mount Airy end, but never mounted a serious threat. Finally, in the 48th minute, the Lady Bears flipped the field and went back on the attack. In the 50th minute, it looked like Greenwood had finished off a rebound from the North Stokes keeper, but the referee called offside and waved the goal off. It didn’t matter, because before that minute was out, Mount Airy had regained possession and Bevard scored the walk-off goal herself.
It was a strong beginning to what will be a challenging week of soccer for the Lady Bears. Mount Airy will host East Wilkes today at 6 p.m. in a make-up of a non-conference match, and then visit Atkins tomorrow in a match they will need in order to lock down outright third place in the conference. They beat the Lady Camels (9-8, 4-4) 6-2 last month.
“It’s really hard to play three games in three days,” Hurley said. “Hopefully, the way we played today will carry over and keep the momentum going.”
The Lady Bears took a 1-0 lead after just 98 seconds, with Greenwood putting a shot past the Lady Viking keeper from about six yards. Over the next several minutes, North Stokes dodged several threats from the home team to keep the score at 1-0, but couldn’t maintain possession itself. Mount Airy kept the pressure on, and early in the 13th minute, Bevard sent a pass across the face of the Stokes goal from just a few yards out. It looked initially like a shot that would just go wide of the right post, but then Sechrist met the ball right outside that post and directed it into the net for a 2-0 lead.
Sechrist also played a key role on the next Mount Airy goal, which came after she was upended in the goal box by a Lady Viking defender. The referee awarded a penalty kick, which Greenwood took and made.
Six minutes later, Olivia Malone got on the board when she finished off a rebound of her own shot in front of the goal. She had initially settled the ball and shot after a corner kick. The Stokes keeper blocked her first attempt, but it went back to Malone.
The attack continued, and in the 28th minute, the keeper barely made the save on a shot by Bevard. Early in the 27th minute, Greenwood had an open shot and there was no stopping it, as she completed a hat trick and gave her team a 5-0 lead.
Just 23 seconds later, Bevard was wide open from 30 yards, just behind her marker, and scored the sixth goal. During the break for the goal, Hurley made wholesale substitutions.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.