After a dismal first half, the Mount Airy girls soccer team took over the final 40 minutes of its match against East Wilkes. The Lady Bears turned up the heat on offense and experienced a huge share of possession, but it still wasn’t enough to secure the victory.
Instead, Mount Airy settled for a 1-1 tie on Monday thanks to a goal from Baylee Greenwood off a corner kick with 17 minutes remaining. It was a deserved goal for the Lady Bears, but not enough to fully overcome a sloppy first half.
“We had to turn it up. We can play like that if we want to,” Mount Airy coach Will Hurley said. “We were just trying to play defense instead of attacking.”
Mount Airy’s poor performance in the first half put the spotlight on goalkeeper Ailia Halpern. The senior made seven saves in the opening period and was a prime factor in the Lady Bears’ ability to force a draw.
Halpern’s biggest moment in the first half came with 12 minutes remaining. East Wilkes led 1-0 and had a chance to double its lead from the penalty spot, but Brooke Schubert’s low shot couldn’t get past a diving Halpern.
“(Halpern) kept us in it,” Hurley said. “I told the kids at halftime, ‘our goalie kept us in it, so what are you going to do about it.’”
Schubert couldn’t extend the Lady Cardinals’ advantage, but she gave her team an early lead in the eighth minute. A pass from the left sideline took a fortunate bounce and found its way to Schubert, who lofted a shot over Halpern’s outstretched gloves for a 1-0 lead.
The opening goal was especially frustrating for Coach Hurley, who told his team before the contest that its emphasis should be on stopping Schubert. He estimated that the East Wilkes senior scored seven goals against the Lady Bears in a preseason scrimmage.
However, Hurley couldn’t find much fault with his team’s inspired performance in the second half. Mount Airy came out of the gates with intent and nearly equalized in the opening minutes, but the Bears would have to wait a little while to reap the rewards of their added intensity.
The Bears increased pressure resulted in a corner kick with just over 17 minutes remaining. Jessica Miranda sent in a cross to Kora Ledezma at the near post. Ledezma flicked it back across goal, and Greenwood punished the Cardinals with an easy finish to tie the match.
Greenwood’s goal was also a byproduct of Hurley’s halftime adjustments. He moved the defensive midfielder a little further forward in the second half, hoping she would make an impact offensively.
The Lady Bears will try to build on their progress in the second half on Wednesday against North Wilkes. It will be the second meeting between the schools, as Mount Airy fell 4-1 in the first matchup.
“I’m hoping we use this moving forward,” Hurley said. “We had a couple of tough games to start the year, but hopefully this is something that can give us confidence as the season goes on.”
Reach Jackson Fuller at 415-4709 and on twitter @jacksonfuller16