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With Community Christian School absent, the field down to five teams instead of the standard six and no champion being declared for the first time, ties are permissible in the annual Rotary Cup high school boys soccer tournament which continued with its second of three sessions on the turf fields of Gillette Soccer Complex on Thursday night.
Deadlocks continued in a precedent-setting direction. With the heat a little more tolerable, Wilson Christian Academy and Hunt High battled to a 3-3 standoff. In a late-afternoon sauna, Beddingfield kicked off its season with a 2-2 outcome against a Greenfield squad playing its fifth match.
Of the first four matches, three ended with no winner or loser. Only Fike owns a victory at Wilson Christian’s expense Tuesday evening.
The 2018 event concludes with a pair of contests Saturday evening. At 6, Wilson Christian opposes Beddingfield and, at 7, Fike confronts Greenfield (2-1-2). Hunt was coming off a 1-1 stalemate against Greenfield on Tuesday.
The manner of determining the final outcomes baffled.
With the score knotted at 2-2, Wilson Christian of the North Carolina Christian School Association 2-A ranks and Hunt of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A Big East Conference traded penalty kicks in the final 22 minutes.
The 1-A Knights of the North Carolina Independent Schools 1-A/2-A Coastal Plain Independents Conference salvaged a tie although their goals occurred on an on goal and a penalty kick.
Hunt seized a 3-2 edge with 21 minutes, 57 seconds remaining when Michael Le nailed a penalty after the Chargers were whistled for going over a Hunt player’s back in the 18-yard box.
But seven minutes later, the Warriors were flagged for a late tackle in the box. Wilson Christian senior Zach Hunter connected on the penalty kick — although junior Hunt goalkeeper Ty Philpott got a hand on the soccer ball.
“I was nervous,” Hunter admitted. “We were down 3-2 and I didn’t want to make a mistake. I calmed down and hit it through. I tried to fake one way and go another, and (Philpott) got a hand on it. But I got it past him.”
Neither team could create a dangerous scoring opportunity the final 15 minutes.
CHARGERS UP 2-0
WCA (0-1-1) claimed a 2-0 lead on sophomore Ethan Mitchell’s goal off a corner kick and a Hunter goal.
The Warriors countered with a goal each from Carlos Chavez and Kevin Moreno.
“Definitely OK,” WCA head coach Don Samson said of the tie. We maintained what we were trying to do most of the game and that was definitely progress. Hunt is not a bad team and to see that kind of progress, we are really pleased.”
The Chargers were especially encouraged at not faltering late — as they did in a 7-2 loss to Fike.
“We had full momentum after the first 10 minutes,” Hunter explained, “but we slowed down a little bit after Hunt got that first goal. After we got down 3-2, I told the team that we can’t get down now. We picked up as a team and brought one back. It was a total team effort.”
Moreno viewed Hunt’s go-ahead penalty kick as “enough motivation,” adding: “It helped us believe. But it is still a learning experience with a new team and a new coach.”
Of Hunt’s 0-0-2 start, first-year head coach Phillip Long responded: “Zero expectations. We are trying a lot of different things with a lot of different players. We’re all very new. We are learning about the players and they are learning about our expectations.
“Wilson Christian lost its first game and had something to come out and prove. We came back from being down 2-0 and led 3-2. That’s soccer ... life in a nutshell.”
Beddingfield, in its season opener, and Greenfield were scoreless until senior Patrick Smith’s kick skipped off a Beddingfield defender and into the Bruins’ goal with 7 minutes, 28 seconds remaining before intermission.
The Bruins of the NCHSAA 2-A Eastern Plains Conference cranked opportunity after opportunity in the second half, but trailed 2-0 when Knights’ senior Jackson Stone, draped and bodied by numerous Bruins defenders throughout, drilled in a penalty kick for his seventh goal of the young season.
Freshman Apolinar Fuentes put Beddingfield on the scoreboard with 31 minutes, 16 seconds showing and, after teammate Ezequias Martinez failed to capitalize on a flurry in front of the Greenfield goal, Fuentes knocked in his second goal with 19 minutes, 40 seconds left.
From that point, the Knights threatened on a Stone shot that Beddingfield junior goalkeeper Rio Montes deflected over the crossbar, on another Stone missile that Montes stabbed and on a corner kick from sophomore William Smith.
The Bruins, the last 10 minutes, repeatedly tested Knights senior keeper Luke Flaherty on a shot from senior Andrew Aguilera, a pair from senior Emasto Toribio and a near-miss from freshman John Becerril in the final 10 seconds.
BRUINS EXPECTED MORE
The spirited, relentless Bruins were anything but impressed with settling for a tie against Greenfield. Fuentes contended Beddingfield would have won if he had entered the match sooner.
“We had to keep pushing because we still had a chance to win,” Fuentes reasoned. “But we played pretty good.”
Added Bruins head coach Mark Aldrich: “I definitely felt we had plenty of opportunities — a couple of different ways with with a couple of different people. We weren’t one-dimensional. Things we have been working on started opening up.
“But it was fun; hopefully, we’ll have some more fun.”
Greenfield’s Patrick Smith described the outcome as “really frustrating.”
“It was not the outcome we wanted,” he added, “but it’s better than a loss. We did not do our best with all-around effort and playing together. It was their first game and we knew we had to expect a hard game, but we didn’t play our hardest.”
First-year head coach Eric Nguyen summarized: “We knew they would come out fighting — they always do. We definitely needed to match their intensity, and we didn’t. It’s better than a loss, but we were definitely thinking that, tonight, we should have pulled out a victory.”