ELKIN — Mount Airy soccer coach Will Hurley likes what he’s seen from his inexperienced Lady Bear soccer team this spring.
Everything, that is, except for kamikaze tactics employed against his senior goalkeeper Ailia Halpern.
Halpern, who was banged up on a collision at the end Tuesday night’s match at East Surry in which the Lady Cardinals were able to tally the decisive goal, was knocked out early in Wednesday’s non-conference showdown with Elkin.
Mount Airy already knew it would play the match with a short bench and really didn’t expect to beat the Lady Elks less than 24 hours after their grueling league finale with East Surry. But their chances were gone when Halpern took a blow to the head on a collision early in the match.
“This is two nights in a row this has happened,” said Hurley. “There was no foul called, no whistle. Someone needs to do something to protect the keepers.”
She came out of the match and was later evaluated for a concussion, which came back negative. However, her status for the opening round of the NCHSAA 1A state playoffs next week is still uncertain.
Her sister Grace, also playing in her final regular-season match for the Lady Bears, took Ailia’s place in goal and played well, but Elkin (8-9-1) scored twice late in the first half and went on to take a 3-0 victory.
“Grace did a good job even though it was her first time playing keeper in a competitive game,” said Hurley. “We just work out from yesterday. Our kids played hard, but they didn’t have their legs tonight.”
The coach credited sophomore midfielder Kora Ledezma and freshman sweeper Haley France with fighting through the fatigue and keeping Mount Airy in the match, but after Ailia Halpern’s injury, the team was down to just one available player off the bench.
“We were really tired tonight,” Hurley said.
They’ll have plenty of time to rest up before playoff pairings are announced on Monday. Mount Airy (10-10-2) will play its first-round game on May 11, most likely on the road as the No. 3 team from the Northwest Conference.