With 15 goals scored in the Granite Bears’ last two matches, Mount Airy head soccer coach Will Hurley isn’t complaining about his team’s offensive output.
He wouldn’t mind seeing a little more consistency, though.
The Bears were heavily favored to make short work of a rebuilding East Surry team on Tuesday night at Wallace Shelton Stadium, and they did, ultimately earning a 10-1 victory that was called with four minutes left on the clock. But for the second straight match, it look a very long time for the Mount Airy offense to get rolling.
The Bears (12-3-1 overall, 2-0 Northwest 1A Conference) blew the match open late against a tiring Cardinal defense, with four goals in a span of 4:41 at the end. They scored eight second-half goals even though they subbed liberally and East Surry actually had much more possession time than it had in the first half. But Mount Airy didn’t even score until the 25th minute of the match.
“Sometimes I think we’re just sitting around waiting for somebody to do something,” Hurley said of his team’s slow starts. “Once we start rolling, we’re ready to go, but we’ve got to start playing the first half.”
After several near-misses, most notably by Malcolm Malone and Cooper Nester, the Bears finally took a 1-0 lead with 15:08 remaining in the first half when Austin Tumbarello got a foot on the ball in heavy traffic in front of the East Surry goal and finished.
Two minutes later, the lead doubled when Nester hit a well-placed shot that sailed over Cardinal goalkeeper Kendal Williams’ head and into the net. Less than a minute later, the two confronted each other again from less than 10 yards apart, but Williams dove to make a save and keep the lead at two goals.
In the 31st minute, the Bears appeared to have another goal when Nester crossed the ball in front of the goal and Tumbarello finished on the other side, but the referee waved it off. and neither team mounted another serious threat before intermission.
Mount Airy held possession for more than 90 percent of the first half, and the Cardinals only got the ball near the Bears’ goal on one occasion.
The home team was determined to rectify their offensive struggles in the second half. It only took Mount Airy 17 seconds to extend its lead to 3-0, that coming when Malone sent a crossing pass to Jesus Martinez just outside the right post and watched him angle it inside the left for the goal.
This was just a sign of good things to come for Martinez. Seven minutes later, the lead ballooned to 4-0 when he ran through a long throw-in by Malone from four yards out.
East Surry earned its only goal of the match three minutes later, when the Bears were whistled for a handball in the box and the Cardinals’ Diego Rebollar got Mount Airy keeper Jesus Orozco leaning the wrong way. The goal made it 4-1 with 29:13 remaining, but it wouldn’t remain that way for very long.
Exactly 80 seconds after Rebollar put the visitors on the board, Nester got it back when he dribbled the ball toward the net all the way directly in front of Williams, who got a hand on the ball but couldn’t cover it up. That was all Nester needed to finish it off and give the Bears a four-goal lead again.
Nester scored again seven minutes later, completing his hat trick and making it 6-1 in favor of Mount Airy with 20:43 left to play.
The Cardinals responded on the offensive end after that goal. pushing the ball deep into the Bears’ end and threatening to score when they were awarded a free kick from 15 yards away from the goal in the 64th minute. Orozco had to make a diving save to his left to deflect the kick away and prevent a second East Surry goal.
Malone earned his third assist of the half with 8:41 to play, when another long throw-in set up Bryan Hernandez to finish from close in and extend the Mount Airy lead to 7-1.
That goal opened the floodgates. In the 74th minute, Martinez got the hat trick when he put a long ball over Williams’ head for his team’s eighth tally. Seventy-seven ticks came off the clock before Kaleb Morrison scored to make it 9-1. Just 53 seconds more and Martinez scored his fourth goal of the night, bringing an immediate end to the match as the Bears reached a nine-goal margin.
They get a week off before traveling to Bishop McGuinness on Oct. 4. East Surry visits North Surry for a non-conference tilt on Thursday.