ELKIN - Heading into the final week of the regular season, Elkin and Starmount are making the push into the postseason in their respective divisions.
The Buckin’ Elks sit in third place in the Mountain Valley Conference at 11-5 overall and 9-3 in conference play and have captured the No. 1 1A seed out of the MVAC.
Elkin picked up three wins over a seven-day span last week to secure the top seed, including a crucial 3-2 statement win over Starmount in the soccer Battle of the Bridge.
In a chippy, hard-fought contest, Daniel Cortez scored an unassisted goal midway through the second half that proved to be the game-winner for the Elks.
Starmount jumped out to an early lead at Grissom Stadium when Jonathan Catalan found the back of the net 15 minutes into the game for a quick 1-0 advantage.
Elkin found the equalizer less than four minutes later to tie the game at 1-1.
Five minutes later, a Elk handball in the box set up Chandler Chappell on a penalty kick. Chappell put the ball past Jesus Rivera in net to give the Rams a 2-1 advantage.
Cortez then took over for Elkin, scoring two quick goals in three minutes to push the Elks ahead 3-2 in the rivalry matchup.
Down the stretch, Starmount had numerous opportunities to tie the game, but had five shots hit off the crossbar. Tempers began to flare as three yellow cards were issued in the final 10 minutes as the Rams battled back.
But Rivera and the Elks stood tall to preserve the win and complete the season sweep over their rivals.
Elkin followed the victory with back-to-back wins over the second- and third-place 1A teams in West and North Wilkes, respectively.
Against the Blackhawks, the Elks jumped out to a 2-0 lead with goals by Eric Gonzalez and Dante Sanchez before hanging on for the 2-1 win.
Elkin cruised to a 4-1 victory over North at Grissom Stadium on Monday to secure the top 1A seed.
With two games remaining on the regular-season schedule against Wilkes Central on Monday and second-place Forbush on Thursday, the Elks will look to add another statement win ahead of the state playoffs.
In Boonville, Starmount bounced back from the loss to Elkin with three-straight wins over the bottom three Wilkes squads.
The Rams breezed past East 9-2 last Wednesday before battling past West 3-1 Monday night. Starmount then recorded its first shutout of the season with a dominating 9-0 win over North Wednesday night.
After falling behind 1-0 early to the Cardinals, Starmount scored nine-straight goals to cruise for the win. David Barrera and Chappell scored two goals on the night, while three JV-callups - Nick Gunnell, Adalexi Salinas and Bryan Jimenez - picked up their first goals of the season.
Against the Blackhawks, goals by Chappell and Luis Luna gave the Rams a quick 2-0 advantage. After West cut the lead to 2-1, Chappell added an unassisted insurance goal with 12 minutes left to secure the win.
Catalan powered Starmount’s offensive outburst against the Vikings with four goals on the night. The senior scored a hat trick in the opening half as the Rams jumped out to a 6-0 lead at the intermission.
Chappell, Barrera, David Zavaleta and Juan Noveron rounded out the scoring as Starmount raced away with a 9-0 shutout victory.
At 9-6-1 on the year and 7-6 in the MVAC, Starmount holds a two-game lead over Wilkes Central (5-10, 5-6) for the final guaranteed playoff spot on the 2A side.
The Rams travel to Moravian Falls to take on the Eagles next Wednesday for the season finale for both squads.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or email@example.com.