KERNERSVILLE — A strong defensive effort and a flurry of second-half goals was yet again a successful recipe for the Bishop McGuinness boys’ soccer team, as the fourth-seeded Villains defeated No. 8 Mount Airy 6-0 in the third round of the NCHSAA 1A playoffs Thursday night.
Two days after scoring six second-half goals and beating No. 12 Chatham Charter 9-0 in the second round, the Villains (15-6-1) notched their fourth consecutive shutout and scored five second-half goals to top fellow Northwest 1-A conference member Mount Airy (17-7-1) for the third time this season.
With the win, Bishop McGuinness and coach Neil Hodges advance to the state quarterfinals for the first time since 2011, while the Granite Bears have their season come to a close in the third round just one year after qualifying for the state semifinals.
“We knew this was going to be a battle, because it’s always tough playing a conference opponent at this stage in the playoffs,” Hodges said. “But I’m extremely happy with the way our guys played, especially in the second half when we were able to put them away.”
Prior to the lopsided result taking shape, the game was stuck in a scoreless gridlock for the first 24 minutes before the Villains finally broke through off a corner kick from senior Matias Crespo.
Positioned on the right-hand side of the field, Crespo placed a well-struck cross directly in front of the net, which found the foot of junior David Molen, who scored the Villains third goal off a corner kick in the last two games.
Holding onto its 1-0 lead into the halftime break, Bishop McGuinness quickly doubled and then tripled its lead less than six minutes into the second half, seemingly putting the game out of reach with 34:31 still remaining.
The Villains first second-half goal, which came just 38 seconds after play resumed, came off of a low-swinging cross from junior Brad Standen, which allowed sophomore Nathan Joseph just enough space to get his right foot on the ball for a 2-0 lead.
Less than five minutes later, Bishop McGuinness senior Logan Smith scored on a free kick from approximately 30 yards out, placing the ball into the upper right-hand corner of the goal for the three-goal advantage.
“We talked at halftime and we knew depending on who scored first in the second half that it was either going to be an absolute battle or we were going to run away with it,” Hodges said. “And good thing for us our guys were ready to play from the start.”
The Villains continued to dominate during the final 22 minutes of play, scoring three more times on goals from sophomores Brandon Linares and Henry Klier before the final exclamation point came off the foot of junior Cameron Bovender.
Having now lost to Bishop McGuinness three times by a combined 13 goals this season, coach Will Hurley of Mount Airy said he thought his team was lacking confidence against the Villains moreso than having any physical disadvantage.
“I really don’t know what it is, but we just don’t play good here against Bishop,” Hurley said. “I don’t quite understand it, but I’m assuming it might be more of a mental problem at this point.”
The loss was the final match for Bear seniors Daniel Garcia, Jesus Orozco, Matthew Dodd, Jesus Martinez, Malcolm Malone, Wesley Frye and Bryan Hernandez. The class won 68 matches in their careers.
Bishop McGuinness will now host No. 6 Matthews Queens Grant in the state quarterfinals Saturday at 2 p.m., after the Stallions defeated second-seeded North Moore on the road Thursday night.