Prep Soccer: Salisbury wins

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 19, 2009

By David Shaw
MOUNT ULLA ó It’s rarely about the start, always about the finish, for Salisbury’s boys soccer team.
So while the Hornets looked like a work-in-progress Tuesday against Carson in the Rowan County Tournament semifinals, coach Tom Sexton wasn’t overly concerned.
“If we make one-quarter or one-fifth of our shots that were there, then it’s a different match,” he said after SHS outscored the Cougars 4-1 in a round of penalty kicks to win 1-0. “If we score the three goals we should have scored in the first half, there are no penalty kicks.”
Instead, Salisbury was diagnosed with an acute case of wide-leftitis. The Hornets outshot Carson 22-8 in regulation but most of those attempts sailed over the crossbar and into the woods behind the cage. None of them beat Carson keeper Hector Mora.
“We just couldn’t keep the ball down,” said winning goalie Connor Miller. “We had to find a way to stay confident. Once the season gets going we’ll start playing better as a team. This won’t be a problem.”
Carson (1-1) had similar difficulty putting the ball behind Miller. It’s best chances came in the first half, when Isais Guerrero split the Salisbury defense and fired a wicked shot from the doorstep from the center of the field at the seven-minute mark. Miller made a diving save. Late in the half Cougars’ defender Tyler Jolly pumped a low shot off the left post. Losing coach Daniel Scullion said part of the puzzle has to do with chemistry.”We’re still trying to find our team,” he said. “We had our chances. We hit the post. But the thing that hurt us the most in the end was not playing as a team.”
The match was decided after two scoreless halves, when the officials opted to bypass the customary overtime and sudden death periods and went straight to a shootout. Salisbury’s B.J. Woods and Carson’s Jorge Sanchez traded first-round goals. In the second, Paul Kollie put the Hornets ahead and Miller made a sprawling save to foil CHS’s Jerson Ramos. “He kept looking right, so I expected him to go left,” Miller reasoned. “Most righties will go left.”
“Ramos took a hard shot and the keeper did a fine job to get to it,” Scullion added. “That was the turning point.”
Ensuing goals by Salisbury’s Matt Cervantes and Miller sealed the deal, giving the Hornets a tougher-than-expected victory. They’ll face West Rowan at 7 p.m. in Thursday’s championship game.
“If we judge ourselves by what we do in this tournament, then you just don’t go anywhere,” said Sexton. “It’s not the final thing.”