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Understandably, lightning and angry radar stopping — then ending — the final match of the Greenfield Showcase high school boys soccer event Thursday evening on Greenfield School’s Forbes Field pitch didn’t disappoint Greenfield as much as it did Hunt High.
Greenfield of the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association 1-A ranks claimed a 3-1 victory — the score when play was stopped with 28 minutes, 50 seconds remaining.
However, the Warriors of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A Big East Conference ranks, down 3-0 at halftime, scored their first goal of the season minutes before the stoppage and appeared a transformed team emotionally. The predicament was not enviable for Hunt, coming off a 1-0 loss to Wilson Christian Academy in Tuesday’s opening session.
Thursday’s scheduled opener between Wilson Christian (2-1) and Beddingfield (0-1) was eventually canceled because of lightning delays.
“Kind of disappointed,” expressed Greenfield junior Jeremy Alvarez. “We had been looking forward to this game; it had been talked about and hyped.
“But, in a way, I’m kind of glad. They were coming back on us and we had slacked off. We were kind of off our game.”
Added junior teammate William Smith: “We always want to play a complete game against Hunt. But we are happy with the outcome. And we always see that we can improve.”
Head coach Eric Nguyen did not deny that nagging injuries and being forced to situate players out of position were taking a toll.
“It may have been a blessing for us,” Nguyen admitted. “In the second half, we were falling apart.
“But we certainly wanted to finish it. Some of the other guys would have had a chance to step up and get better. That helps us the rest of the season.”
But Greenfield, a 1-A member of the split 1-A/2-A Coastal Plain Independents Conference, owns a 4-1 record while the 0-2 Warriors finally found the back of the net after nearly 142 minutes of pitch time. Second-year Hunt head coach Phillip Long offered sobering perspective.
“We have got to figure out a way to start the game correctly,” Long reasoned. “We do a lot of things right after we get started, but one moment lets us down. That one moment that lets us down is what we have been working on.”
The Knights ruled the first half.
Smith netted the first goal with less than six minutes elapsed. He was marked by a Hunt defender and nearby was Warriors senior goalkeeper Ty Philpott. The defender made no attempt to clear the ball and Smith whisked a shot past the surprised Philpott.
Smith explained he was left with the impression the defender was attempting to shield the soccer ball for Philpott to handle, and miscommunication was the result.
“I read that and headed to goal,” Smith reviewed. “That’s all I had my eyes on. Coach told us to be aggressive.”
With just under 16 minutes remaining, Alvarez staked Greenfield to a 2-0 lead. He split two Hunt defenders, seemed to slow, resorted to a giddy-up burst and thundered an accurate shot.
“I had two players in front of me,” Alvarez replayed the score. “I took them, pushed the ball to my left, took it to the left front when I split them. I guess I was faster than both and I tucked it way. When it’s 2 vs. 1, I always feel I can take anybody.”
Finally, in the final 30 seconds of the first half, senior Zeke Ferrell fielded a pass from Smith, bolted along almost the length of the right sideline, turned toward the goal and cranked a shot that Hunt’s Philpott blocked. However, Ferrell was on the spot to tap in the rebound.
The Warriors took charge at the outset of the second half.
Sophomore Nestor Castro drilled a shot off the crossbar. With less than two minutes elapsed in the second half, senior Alejandro Salazar cranked in the Hunt goal on a shot from some 18 yards out.
Seconds before the stoppage, Castro just missed for a second time.
“I was in the right spot,” Salazar commented of his goal.”That gave us more motivation. After we got that goal, we knew we could come back for sure. Everybody felt it; it was a boost of confidence.”
But Mother Nature intervened.
A chat of the coaches indicated the showcase or an event similar to it will be staged next year if the Rotary Cup is not resumed.
“It’s a joy playing them,” remarked Nguyen, Long’s predecessor at Hunt. “The coaches know each other and the players know each other. It makes for a fun event for the teams and the fans as well.”