Semifinals next for Salisbury boys soccer team after 2-0 victory over West Caldwell
SALISBURY — The leaves surrounding Ludwig Stadium are turning golden — and so is Salisbury’s boys soccer season.
Even on a night when the Hornets left their ‘A’ game in the locker room, they emerged victorious in Saturday’s 2A state quarterfinal.
“We played very poorly in my opinion,” coach Matt Parrish said after Salisbury edged West Caldwell 2-0 and advanced to the Western state final. “They did a nice job of muddying the field, not allowing us to do what we do so well. We couldn’t stretch the field. We weren’t possessing the ball, weren’t winning balls in the midfield. That was one of our lesser-played matches of the year.”
It was nonetheless a record-setting match for the top-ranked Hornets (25-1), who won their 23rd straight and set a school mark for victories in a season.
“Just another one down,” senior back John Canipe said. “We obviously didn’t string together many passes and we had trouble getting our flow going.”
Once they did the Hornets were a force, if only sporadically. They scored both of their goals in the opening 18 minutes and rang three other shots off the crossbar in the first 20.
“In soccer there are no timeouts,” languished WC coach Thomas Clark after the Warriors bowed out with a 20-4-1 record. “They jumped on us early and caught us by surprise. We just had to weather the storm.”
The storm arrived just a minute and 10 seconds into the match when senior Bobby Cardelle blasted a long free kick from the left side that crashed off the crossbar behind West keeper Roger Perez. Eight minutes later forward Emmy Turcios settled a pass from Cardelle and beat Perez with a hard shot from in front.
“Getting that first goal gave us the momentum,” said midfielder Michael Brown.
The Hornets kept it for much of the first half. Thirty seconds after scoring the opening goal forward Lucas Capito nearly made it a two-goal edge when his rip from the right side deflected off Perez’s fingertips, brushed off the crossbar and fell harmlessly out of play.
“We know at this stage every team we play is a good team,” said Cardelle. “So you’ve got to take advantage of things. This was not our best performance, but we kept it a clean sheet and get to move on.”
Cardelle, who was thwarted on a second-half penalty kick, netted Salisbury’s second goal with 22:30 remaining in the first half. The play unfolded when 6-foot-3 midfielder Clint Comadoll launched a long throw-in from the left side. Cardelle found the ball in midair and headed it past Perez for his 10th goal of the playoffs.
“We were almost in awe of their size,” Clark said afterward. “They were big and tall. We had trouble winning balls out of the air.”
The rest of the night belonged to Salisbury’s Doberman defense — anchored by Canipe, Comadoll, Christian Uribe and Reilly Gokey. Together they handcuffed West Caldwell sniper Jonathan Cruz-Nava, a senior who was repeatedly foiled and spent more time on his back than Michelangelo.
“We got behind him and wouldn’t let him turn,” Canipe said. “Ya know, checking him. Keeping him from getting the ball was a key.”
So was the work of SHS keeper Max Fisher. Nobody received more post-game praise than the hard-nosed sophomore, who stopped a pair of point-blank shots and finished with six saves.
“Max Fisher played the best match I’ve ever seen him play,” Parrish later gushed. “He must have eaten his Wheaties. He played today with intensity. From the second he got here until the moment he left, he was poised and focused. He didn’t panic. He was barking at his guys. If Max keeps playing like that we’re going to be hard to beat.”
NOTES: Salisbury will host Lake Norman Charter (16-6-2) in a state semifinal either Tuesday or Wednesday night. LNC beat Shelby 2-1 in overtime to advance. The Knights lost to CATA, Salisbury’s third-round opponent, in a early-season showdown. ... Cardelle has 43 goals this season and 103 as a varsity player. ... The shutout was Salisbury’s 12th. SHS held a 15-9 edge in shots-at-goal. ... Brown also fired a shot off the crossbar midway through the first half. ... Comadoll was busted for rough play and issued a yellow card with 4:33 to play in the first half.