After a grueling week and back-to-back games, the Mount Airy Granite Bears girls soccer team dug deep Friday and found the energy to take out conference foe East Wilkes, 3-1.
The win improves the Bears overall record to 7-6, with their Northwest 1A Conference mark now at 5-5.
Lindsay Castevens had another strong showing for coach Andrew Howards’ team, scoring all three of the Bears’ goals.
Howard said after downing West Wilkes 3-1 away Thursday night he was proud of his team’s determination and more importantly, stamina, in Friday’s matchup.
“To come off back-to-back nights is tough,” Howard said. “But they played well and they got it done. You’ve got to beat the teams you are supposed to beat and it was a good showing tonight.”
Howard also said the win was doubly important because it pushed the Bears back to .500 in conference play and above .500 overall.
East Wilkes had several opportunities early, finding scoring chances on a couple of breakaways in the first half.
However, the Bears defense held true, and when Castevens struck the first blow with just more than 10 minutes to play in the first half, the Bears took the momentum.
After the Bears led 1-0 at the half, East again found chances to score early in the second, but again the Bears defense proved too strong, keeping the Cardinals out of the net.
“Our defense had a really good week giving up just three goals in three games,” Howard said. “They have been the strength of our team all year and have kept us in games when we weren’t supposed to be.”
Castevens added her second goal of the game with 20 minutes to go in the contest, then put the icing on the cake with a lob over the East Wilkes’ goalie with 10 minutes remaining.
Mount Airy’s Ericka Watson assisted on two of Castevens’ three goals and Howard said having a player who can deter defenses from focusing on the Bears’ super striker is very important to his team’s offensive success.
“Tonight she was taking some of the focus off Lindsay which set her up to score,” Howard said. “It’s great because she’s a really good dribbler and a lot of times she can keep the ball long enough and while they are watching her dribble, they lose focus on Lindsay.”
Mount Airy has two more conference games remaining, with the Bears scheduled to face off with Bishop McGuinness Monday and South Stokes Thursday, with a non-conference match against Galax. Va., sandwiched in the middle.
Both Bishop and South Stokes are in a three-way tie for first place in the Northwest 1A Conference with defending champion Elkin.
Despite the tough competition, Howard said his team does not plan to back down from the challenge, saying the fact both teams beat the Bears by just one goal each in their respective first meetings should give Mount Airy confidence going in.
“I think we are just as good as both of them it’s just a matter of putting it together and scoring the goals,” Howard said. “I think the win over West Wilkes is going to help us with that, where we finally finished a close game. We can also end up spoiling their seasons, so that is kind of a little incentive.”
CENTRAL FINISHES WEEK IN THIRD
DOBSON — An up-and-down week concluded for the Surry Central girls soccer team with a 6-1 loss to West Stokes Friday night in a non-conference clash.
Reba Stanley scored the Golden Eagles’ only goal, one which broke a scoreless tie 15 minutes into the game. West Stokes tied the score with one minute remaining in the first half before breaking the game open.
On Monday, the Golden Eagles won a 2-1 overtime thriller against Ashe County and cemented themselves into the third spot in the conference standings, where they remain. Against the Huskies, Martha Perez scored on a penalty kick in the extra frame to lift her team to the victory. Savanna Snow scored the first goal for Surry Central in that game.
Now, the Golden Eagles try to maintain their standing. They travel to Starmount Monday for a 5:15 matchup.