Prep Soccer: Salisbury advances to third round
By David Shaw
It shouldn’t have come down to Kenny Bonilla’s overtime goal to lift Salisbury into the third round of the 2A boys soccer playoffs.
But it did.
And he did.
Bonilla scored the lone goal in overtime Saturday, and Salisbury beat Forest Hills 1-0.
“We had a lot of balls in the box that we didn’t convert,” Salisbury coach Tom Sexton said. “We probably got more from them than we expected, even though we went and scouted them. We did get their best shot.”
They got it and brushed it aside. In a match pocked with near-misses ó it was more grit than glamour, more spit than shine ó a freshman midfielder rescued Salisbury (15-4-1) from an early postseason exit.
“We didn’t expect them to be this good,” said Randy Almeida, a senior who anchored Salisbury’s steadfast defense. “They were tough. We couldn’t put a goal in until the last couple minutes.”
Even that didn’t go according to plan. Bonilla settled a throw-in from teammate Will Mason near the right sideline and lofted a slow-bending, rainbow kick toward goalkeeper Edward Salinas.
“I was trying to put it in the middle,” Bonilla said after his 22-yard shot caught the upper-left corner with 4:28 remaining in the first of two OT periods. “But luck or no luck, it got us to the third round.”
That’s where Salisbury will visit South Iredell (18-1) ó which edged West Davidson 3-2 ó either Tuesday or Wednesday.
“I’m just happy we’re going on,” Salisbury’s Paul Kollie said. “This was such a hard game to win. I’m glad we have a freshman who can score.”
The goal was Bonilla’s fifth of the season and sent Forest Hills home with a 10-10-1 record.
“My keeper would have had it if it wasn’t so well-placed,” losing coach Marq Ryan said. “Just a superb goal. You want matches to be determined with skill, and that’s exactly what that play showed.”
Forest Hills played much of the match without star midfielder Andrew Jennings, the school’s all-time scoring leader with 52 career goals. He re-aggravated a right ankle injury chasing a loose ball in the game’s 14th minute.
Jennings returned midway through the first half but was lifted for a substitute two minutes later. He also returned in the second overtime period but was effectively neutralized by Salisbury’s Dustin Presnell.
“I give my guys credit,” Ryan said. “They overcame the loss of their top player and were in the match until the end.”
Salisbury keeper Frankie Cardelle made 10 saves and earned the team’s 12th shutout. His most significant stop came two minutes after the Hornets went ahead, when Forest Hills speedster Ben Polk drilled a shot from the right side.
Cardelle dove to his left and snagged the ball in his midsection ó much like a circus performer catching a fired cannon ball.
“Those balls are hard to get,” Cardelle said. “You just have to run across the box and dive ó and hope the ball finds you. You’ve got to sell yourself out and make yourself big.”
After the victory, Sexton praised the work of forwards Vic Nyae, Miles Jordan, B.J. Woods and Kollie, who sparked the Hornets by creating several scoring chances late in the second half and the first extra session. But when they rolled the post-show credits it was Bonilla, an early-season replacement, who earned top billing.
“He’s a very talented freshman. It’s amazing what he’s done,” Sexton lauded. “Once we got him at that offensive center midfield position (five games into the season), he’s been the glue. Since he’s been on the field we’re 14-1-1.”
They’re 14-1-1 and still kicking.