MOUNT AIRY — Something about East Wilkes brings out the best in Mount Airy’s Austin Tumbarello. The sophomore striker torched the Cardinals for the second time in a week, scoring four times to lift his Mount Airy Granite Bears to a 5-1 victory over the visitors from Ronda on Tuesday evening.
Tumbarello also scored four goals in a match last week, when Mount Airy (5-2) won 7-1 at East Wilkes on Aug. 30. He now has a dozen goals on the year, eight of them coming in the two matches against the Cardinals.
“He’s played them twice and he has eight goals. If we can just get him to transition that into other teams that we play, that would be awesome,” quipped Coach Will Hurley. “I thought we played much better today than yesterday (in a 2-1 setback to North Surry).”
This match followed much the same script as the Bears’ first win over East Wilkes, with the Cardinals hanging tough for a while, but then succumbing in the second half. Mount Airy had about 75 percent of the possession time in the first half, but the hard-pressed East Wilkes defense had an answer for everyone but their nemesis, Tumbarello. Six and a half minutes into the match, he got free from 10 yards in front of the goal and fired, but keeper James Burcham made the save. The Bears then reset the attack, and less than 40 seconds later, Tumbarello settled a ball in front and this time beat Burcham for a 1-0 lead.
Four minutes later, he and an East Wilkes defender got into a footrace for a loose ball in front of the goal, and Tumbarello won it, putting a shot past Burcham for a 2-0 lead with 29:45 to go in the first half.
Surprisingly, that was the last goal of the opening period. The Cardinals began to mark Tumbarello more aggressively, and he eventually checked out of the game with several minutes left in the half, as Hurley was determined to rest his key players with another match coming up in two days.
Still, there were opportunities. In the 36th minute, Cooper Nester sent a long pass ahead from the midfield and Julio Contreras got to it and blasted a shot from short range, but Burcham was up to the challenge. Nester himself had a crack at it two minutes later, but Burcham made a diving save.
It wasn’t until just 75 seconds remained in the first half that East Wilkes finally put a shot on goal. The early part of the second half was a different story, as the Cardinals tried to mount a comeback.
Early in the 43rd minute, the visitors chopped the lead in half when Josiah Sparks beat two defenders to a corner kick and got the ball past Bear keeper Jesus Orozco for a goal. Mount Airy went back to the attack and nearly got the goal back two minutes later, when Burcham had to dive to stop a shot off the foot of the Bears’ Drew Tilly.
Back and forth the teams went for a few minutes. In the 47th minute of play, Wilkes’ Carlos Aquino missed tying the match by inches, blasting a close-in shot off the crossbar before Orozco was able to corral the ricochet out of the air.
“(East Wilkes coach Rodney Wagoner) threw some different looks at us in the midfield in the second half, and I think we got a little lackadaisical, but we regrouped,” said Hurley.
It was Tumbarello who stepped in to restore order. With just under 29 minutes to play, the Bears earned a corner kick, which sailed in the general direction of the Bears’ striker and two overmatched defenders. Tumbarello got his head on it and into the net for a 3-1 Mount Airy lead. From there, the Granite Bears began to regain control of the match.
He made it a hat trick plus one in the 60th minute, when Robert Brown was awarded a free kick from about 35 yards out, and sent the ball in the direction of Tumbarello. The sophomore met the ball with his head once again, sending it past Burcham from 10 yards out for a 4-1 lead.
The harried Cardinal keeper, who had gotten little help from his defense when it came to Tumbarello, had to be relieved when Hurley himself soon removed him from the match. Mount Airy kept attacking, with Dante Collins getting a shot on goal in the 63rd minute and Matthew Dodd scoring the Bears’ fifth goal on another opening from eight yards out in the 67th minute, but the match ended with several reserves in on both sides.
“We have three tough games this week, and I was trying to sub a little more, keep us fresh,” Hurley said.
Mount Airy, ranked fifth in the 1A ranks in this week’s MaxPreps.com power ratings, completes its week by hosting Elkin on Thursday, in what will be the third match in four days for both the Bears and the Buckin’ Elks.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.