Starmount and Elkin both clinched home games for the 1A state soccer playoffs with wins in their final regular-season games.
Seniors step up in big win for Elkin
Thursday night featured a tight battle between Elkin and North Wilkes, but in the end, it was Elkin who came back for a 5-1 win. 5-1 doesn’t sound like much of a comeback, but Elkin went down early, and stayed there until midway through the second half before exploding.
Elkin had 14 shots in the first half, coming close to a goal a few times. North Wilkes got on the board within the first two minutes, and with it being Senior Night, the sense of urgency suddenly spiked.
In their first 18 shots on goal, the Buckin’ Elks couldn’t convert, but on their 19th and 20th, they tied things up, then took the lead.
Thirty-four minutes in, sophomore Said Islas continued his hot streak with a goal, and then the seniors took the reins.
Senior Zach Rhyne scored 40 seconds later on a great play created by junior Juan Anuario to take a 2-1 lead.
“We just realized that [for the seniors], this could be our last game here, and it just kind of hit us … hard,” Rhyne said.
Twelve minutes later, junior Isaac Powell found senior Luis Anorve who struck it from 30 yards out. Senior Reid Turner passed to senior Erick Chimal who slammed it in to make it 4-1. Then, Turner got a goal of his own in the closing minute after winning the battle for possession in the box.
“If we work as a team we can can get really far, and that’s what we did tonight,” Chimal said.
Although their first 18 shots didn’t find the back of the net, five of their final ten did.
“We have the ability to make a good run in the playoffs, it’s just these guys have to put 80 minutes together,” Coach Heath Foster said.
Second half offensive explosion for Starmount
BOONVILLE – Like Elkin, Starmount also had a comeback win in their final regular-season match, and while it was Senior Night for the Rams, it was the juniors who accounted for an offensive explosion in the second half.
East Wilkes took a 2-1 lead early in the second half, but then junior Jeyson Pineda did exactly what he did in his first game with the Rams earlier this season. Pineda scored four goals in 14 minutes, and added another goal a few minutes later as the Rams completed the comeback to win 7-3. Junior Juan Mora added two goals on the night as well.
It marked the final regular-season game for senior captains Erick Teodoro and Vicente Adame, but they certainly don’t think their job is done yet.
“Once we click, we’re unstoppable,” Teodoro said. “Just because we were down, we had time left. We had to keep going and fight for the ball.”
“Playoffs it’s a whole different level, we’re gonna step it up, try our best, and try to make school history this year,” Adame said. “Playing at home is the best, we try to make Starmount proud.”
Both Pineda and junior Salomon Maya have the potential to break school records in the first round of the 1A playoffs. Pineda is two goals away from breaking the school record (36), while Maya needs two assists.
Head Coach Edgar Zamora is aware that both of them are chasing those records, but more importantly, aware of the situation for the next game.
“It’s one-and-done from here on. These boys have done something big, and they don’t let off of the accelerator. I think that’s going to be the thing in the playoffs, to not let off the accelerator and not look back,” Zamora said.
Across the state, the Buckin’ Elks were in the low 30s in ranking, meaning the win clinches a home game in the first round for the 1A tournament. Starmount essentially had a home playoff match clinched entering the night, but the win will likely help its seeding greatly. Who Starmount and Elkin play and when will be determined early on this week.
Ryan DeCosta can be reached at 336-258-4052 or via Twitter @rsdecosta.