HAYS — Mount Airy soccer opened its season with a 4-1 win over North Wilkes.
The Lady Bears led 3-0 at the half and allowed the only goal off a free kick.
“The back line was the key to the game,” said Coach Will Hurley. The defense was able to push up and keep the ball away from the box the whole game. The back line kept feeding the offense all night, he said.
The Bears lost all-conference selections Vanessa Armenta and Andi Moore, but return honorable mention Marissa Petri and all-conference keeper Ailia Halpern.
Tennis player Bree Hughes decided not to play soccer this year, but Hurley was able to talk volleyball/basketball standout Kathryn Beasley into playing this spring.
Kathryn is a tremendous athlete, strong and very competitive, so she should provide a nice spark for the team, Hurley said.
The captains for this year’s team are Petri, Maria Rodriguez, Kimberly Lachino and Jessica Escutia.
The captains came up with some big plays in the opener.
Hurley said he tried Maria at keeper in the first half, and she saved three kicks.
In the meantime, Jessica Miranda scored off a feed from Lachino about eight minutes in. Then Petri scored on a penalty kick in the 11th minute, and Judy Madrigal scored with an assist to Miranda in the 23rd minute.
In the second half, Halpern took her usual spot at keeper, and Rodriguez moved to striker where she scored a goal off an assist from Madrigal about five minutes into the second half.
Halpern made three saves in the second frame.
The Bears won two more games last season than the year before, and this squad is looking to continue the improvement.
The girls want to get better, he said. The team has put more emphasis on conditioning than ever before.
If the team can avoid the injury bug, this group could have some strong defense and passing.
There are some good players on this team, but also a lot of inexperience, he said.
Last fall, the boys’ team went undefeated in the Northwest Conference, and that success has the girls inspired, too, he said. A lot of new faces showed up for practice this spring.
The Bears travel to Thomasville today for a 5 p.m. game.