The Granite Bears (20-0-2) have reached soccer’s Elite Eight for the first time in school history.
Mount Airy pushed a 1-0 halftime lead into a 5-1 win over East Montgomery Wednesday night.
The Bears controlled time of possession and had several more shot attempts than the visiting Eagles.
Mount Airy will host the next playoff game Saturday afternoon against North Moore, which defeated Union Academy.
Coach Will Hurley said he would like to start the game at about 3 p.m. so the sun is still up and the temperature is a little warmer. But if North Moore doesn’t like that time, then the game will start at the traditional 6 p.m.
In Wednesday’s game, the Bears seemed to possess well in the first half, but didn’t get a lot of shots on goal.
“I thought we came out really strong,” said Hurley. “We controlled the ball, but we just couldn’t get that door off the front of the goal.”
East Montgomery had a chance to score on a quick change of field. From the left side, a player struck a hard, bending shot around the defense and toward the right corner of the goal.
John Hardy, moved to keeper with Scott Kunkel’s wrist injury, made a diving stop to save a point.
About 16 minutes into the game, the Eagles took possession of the ball in their own territory and began moving forward.
A player sent a ball toward midfield, but Mitchell Brown jumped up to stop it with his head. The ball bounced to an Eagle player, but Brown chased it down and stole it back.
He passed the ball ahead up the right side, and Felipe Chavez chased it down and drilled it into the right corner of the goal with 23:28 left in the half.
“Once Felipe made the first score, that opened things up for the rest of the team,” said Hurley.
Inside six minutes left in the half, Jose Perez attacked up the left side and sent a shot to the near post, but the ball caromed off the post.
With five minutes left, Brown was knocked down, and Sam Watson took the free kick from the right sideline.
The ball bounced around a couple of times before Federico Machado got a chance. Unfortunately, his diagonal shot went just wide left.
The Bears went into halftime up 1-0, but the Eagles came out fired up for the second period.
For three minutes, East Montgomery was flying around the ball and keeping it near the Bears’ goal.
Then Mount Airy began to exert its will again.
Ten minutes later, the Bears had a throw-in from the 25-yard line. Carlos Carrillo threw it in, but the Eagles kicked it out at the 10-yard line.
Carrillo’s second throw found Chavez at the 5-yard line. The header bounced over the reach of the keeper and into the net for a 2-0 lead.
The players seemed to relax at that point and allowed East Montgomery to attack, said Hurley.
Less than two minutes after Mount Airy’s score, a Bear player tripped and fell into an Eagle and allowed a free kick.
The kick was headed toward the right post, and keeper Hardy moved to his left to make the stop.
However, the ball deflected off the back of an offensive player back to the middle of the net for a score.
That cut the lead to 2-1, but also seemed to wake the Bears up that no lead was safe, the coach said.
John Hardy didn’t have to make many saves, but four of them were quality stops, said Hurley. Even that one goal was a fluke, bouncing off a player’s back.
Inside 21 minutes to go, Carrillo made one of his 32 takeaways and fed the ball to Jose Perez.
Perez then sent a ball between two defenders and up the left side. Jeremy Chappell chased the ball down and sent it into the left corner for a 3-1 lead with 20:27 left.
The Bears had a couple of close misses over the next few minutes before scoring again at the 10:54 mark.
Chandler Snyder dribbled the ball up the left side and sent a shot toward the goal. The ball bounced around before Machado finished it off for a 4-1 margin.
A minute later, the Eagles had a breakaway, but the attacker’s shot hooked left and missed.
At 7:14, the Bears finished the scoring as Perez centered the ball from the left to Machado, who slammed the ball into the net.
Looking at the 1A West bracket, Hurley said he is proud of the fact that two Surry County teams are still alive out of four schools.
While Mount Airy hosts North Moore Saturday, Elkin will travel to Thomas Jefferson after beating Highlands 3-2 in overtime.
Highlands went into the match with a 21-3-1 record and the second seed to Thomas Jefferson in the sectional.
Thomas Jefferson has a great record at 18-1-1, but it has won by just 1-0 margins the past two games, so Elkin has a chance, said Hurley.
As for the Bears, Hurley said the East Montgomery coach told him that Mount Airy should be the favorite against North Moore, a team the Eagles played twice during the regular season.