Bears roll young Elks in mercy-rule win

By Kristian Russell -
Jackson Tumbarello makes his way down the field for the Bears on Thursday night. - Kristian Russell | The News

ELKIN — The Elkin Buckin’ Elks men’s soccer team hosted its first home game of the season on Thursday night. Elkin took on the Mount Airy in a game that saw the Granite Bears take a 9-0 mercy-rule win over the Buckin’ Elks.

“I thought we cam out really flat in the first 20 minutes,” said Mount Airy head coach Will Hurley. “I thought everyone wanted to play striker instead of playing in their positions and you can’t play the game that way. Hats off to Joe (McCulloch), I think he does such a great job with the kids. You can just see, obviously the score didn’t reflect how hard his kids played. He has done a fantastic job. They will get better as the season goes on, I can see it.”

In the first half, Mount Airy controlled the tempo of the game. The Bears were able to string together several passes and earn corner kicks which kept the Buckin’ Elks on their heels. In the eighth minute of the half, Mount Airy was able to penetrate Elkin’s defense to take a 1-0 lead.

“We played good, we had a game last night and so we didn’t have a practice in-between games to work on the things we needed to work on,” said Elkin head coach Joe McCulloch. “Mount Airy out hustled us. I thought we played well but we had people in different positions. I had one with a red card, one working and two on vacation. We are still trying to figure out where people are going to be playing and we are trying to put them in the right places. We are better than we were last year at this point.”

As the first half continued, Elkin tried to put passes together but the Granite Bears managed to stop the Elks just as they were getting started. Elkin was able to get across midfield in the 13th minute, as Jose Zuniga and Rafael Salas connected for a give and go. Just as Elkin was about to make a cross into the box, Mount Airy was able to steal the ball to start a counter attack. The Buckin Elks were able to stop the attack as Trace Grissom and Chase Cozart were able to double team Mount Airy and clear the ball.

In the 19th minute, Elkin’s keeper, Thomas McComb, made a save to keep the score 1-0. Austin Tumbarello was able to volley the ball as it came in from a cross, just as it looked like the ball was going in, McComb saved it.

With 18:37 left to play in the first half, the Bears had a free kick at the top of the 18-yard box. Tumbarello managed to sneak past the Elkin wall and knock the ball in. Unfortunately for the Bears the play was ruled offside and the goal didn’t count. Less than a minute later Tumbarello was able to steal the ball from Elkin and knock in a goal that counted to give Mount Airy a 2-0 lead.

Mount Airy tacked on its third goal of the night as Brandon Osorno dribbled through the Elkin defenders to for a 3-0 lead with 13:50 left in the half. Thirty seconds later, Osorno added the fourth goal to Mount Airy’s side of the scoreboard with a breakaway goal. Before the first half was over, Mount Airy knocked in four additional goals to take a 7-0 lead at halftime.

In the second half, the final two goals were knocked in at the 42nd minute and the 44th minute. When all was said and done, Mount Airy took a 9-0 non-conference win over Elkin.

“We need to make a lot of improvements – fitness is the biggest one,” said McCulloch. “We have a lot of underclassmen, so they just have to figure out the system and be comfortable communicating. Our upperclassmen can communicate, but you’ve got four talking and the other seven are sort of quiet, they just have to be louder and more aggressive.”

Mount Airy moves to 2-0 overall. The Granite Bears will travel to Alleghany on Monday. Kick-off is set for 5:00 p.m.

Elkin moves to 0-2 overall this season. The Buckin’ Elks will host Millennium Charter Academy on Tuesday night.

“Our biggest thing is getting focused on what we are doing and playing our positions,” said Hurley. “That is what our halftime was about – playing our positions and doing our job. Hopefully we will do that. I think we have the potential to be back where we were last year, but it is tough. We have had so much turnover so it is tough to get back into that. Hopefully we will get there though. We have some really great kids, and even though we have some seniors, we are still young. A lot of good young players are out there making a difference for us.”

Jackson Tumbarello makes his way down the field for the Bears on Thursday night. Tumbarello makes his way down the field for the Bears on Thursday night. Kristian Russell | The News

By Kristian Russell