WEST JEFFERSON — The Mount Airy soccer team showed no signs of slowing down after playing its seventh match in 13 days on Saturday evening, although they did do one thing their coach could have done without.
The Granite Bears (9-2-1 overall) built a 4-0 first-half lead in their rare weekend tilt at Ashe County, but then relaxed a little too much and ended up having to fight for their 5-3 victory over the Huskies.
“I think we decided they were going to quit, and I kept telling them they weren’t going to do that,” said Mount Airy coach Will Hurley. “They’re a good team and they were capable of coming back. Hopefully, we learned something from this.”
Ashe County (3-4, but with all of its losses before Saturday against larger schools) scored off a free kick shortly before intermission to cut its deficit to 4-1, and then the Huskies followed that up by scoring two quick goals at the start of the second half, cutting the Bears’ lead to a perilous 4-3.
At this point, Mount Airy was able to turn up its intensity, and they kept the Huskies off the board the rest of the way. A second-half goal from Cooper Nester off an assist from Jesus Martinez eventually gave the team some breathing room again.
Four different players scored for the Bears during the first half. Austin Tumbarello opened the scoring with a goal off an assist from Robert Brown. Brown scored the team’s second goal off a free kick, and then Julio Contreras scored off an assist from Tumbarello. Tumbarello also assisted on the team’s fourth goal, which was scored by Nester.
Bears 3, Elkin 2
On Thursday night, Mount Airy traveled to the south end of the county and got a tussle from Elkin, a team they had shut out 3-0 on the Bears’ pitch just a week earlier. In the rematch, the Buckin’ Elks played inspired soccer, and it took Mount Airy every one of the 80 minutes of play to pull out a 3-2 win.
Two second-half goals by Brown proved to be the difference as the Bears rallied from a 2-1 halftime deficit. Brown tied the game on a penalty kick with 13 minutes to play and then gave the visitors their first lead when he scored off a free kick with just 50 seconds remaining in the match.
Tumbarello kept Mount Airy in the game during the first half when he scored his 16th goal of the season off a cross from Contreras. He got a head on the ball and sent into the corner of the net to keep his team within a goal at intermission.
The Bears’ busy schedule continues this week with matches at Forbush on Monday and at home against South Stokes on Thursday. The team then takes a week off before beginning play in the Northwest 1A Conference.