East Surry was determined not to get burned by Baylee Greenwood in Friday night’s showdown with county rival Mount Airy.
They succeeded in that regard, but it turned into a case of “pick your poison” for the Lady Cardinals, who shut down Greenwood but had no answer for her teammate Olivia Malone in a 3-0 Lady Bear victory at Wallace Shelton Stadium.
Malone, a sophomore forward, had seven shots on goal and found the back of the net twice in Mount Airy’s win, which gave the Lady Bears a season sweep of East Surry for the first time in several seasons. Mount Airy had already won by the same score in Pilot Mountain on April 10.
“They were really marking (Baylee) pretty heavily,” said Mount Airy coach Will Hurley. “(We got) into that kickball thing for a while, but once we settled it down, we were able to possess it a lot longer.”
The Lady Bears (10-7, 3-3 Northwest 1A Conference) locked up third place in the league standings behind South Stokes and Bishop McGuinness with two matches remaining in the regular season. Mount Airy will focus on finishing the season as strongly as possible in the hopes of earning a spot in the upcoming 1A state playoffs.
The way Friday’s match began, some people probably expected a blowout. Just 94 seconds into the match, Kora Ledezma sent a long crossing pass from the left to the right side of the goal and found her target, senior striker Jo Snow headed in the direction of the right post. Snow met the ball and buried it into the back left corner of the net for a quick 1-0 Lady Bear lead.
Mount Airy tried to press its advantage early on, with Greenwood actually getting free for a shot in the sixth minute that banged off the top of the crossbar. A teammate had a shot on goal with the rebound, but East Surry keeper Abby Key was on the spot for the first of a dozen saves she made before the evening was done.
In the 20th minute, Malone struck for the first time, blasting one past Key from about 14 yards out into the same back left corner that Snow had found. The Lady Bears nearly added to their 2-0 lead moments later, when Greenwood stole the ball and fired off a shot, but Key grabbed it.
The Lady Cardinals had their first good chance at a response in the 22nd minute, when Elyssa Jones got past defender Cheyenne Allen and crossed a ball in front of the Lady Bears’ goal inside the goal box, but two East Surry strikers were just a split-second late in meeting the ball. The Lady Cardinals were about even in possession time for the remainder of the first half, but didn’t mount another serious threat until time wound down under two minutes. Haley Noel worked free for a shot against keeper Samantha Stewart, who made the play to keep the score at 2-0.
In the final few minutes of the first half, things seemed to go from bad to worse for East when Jones went down with an injury after colliding with a Mount Airy player. She had to be carried off the field, but recovered and played the second half.
The teams spent most of the early part of the second half kicking the ball around, with each side mounting just one major threat before the Lady Cardinals’ Sophia Lowe tried to link up with teammate Jessica Clayton on an indirect kick in the 54th minute. But Clayton couldn’t shake her defender in time and the chance passed.
Malone went on a rampage over the next eight minutes, tearing down the home sideline repeatedly on attacks. She missed just wide of the net in the 57th minute, blasted one right at Key in the 60th, and finally got her second goal in the 62nd, when she split two defenders in front of the goal and rocketed a ball past the keeper from 10 yards out.
East Surry started to pay more attention to Malone after that, which allowed Tessa Stovall, Greenwood, Snow and then Annmarie Bedsaul to take shots, but there was no more scoring. Hurley pulled Greenwood late in the match and Malone broke free from a double-team and tried for the hat trick, but missed wide left.
Mount Airy will travel to Bishop on Monday night, while East finishes at North Surry on Wednesday.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.