Soccer Tournament Championship: Salisbury 6, West Rowan 0
By David Shaw
MOU NT ULLA ó For one night it seemed like the Salisbury boys soccer team slipped into a pair of comfortable, old shoes.
The only thing missing from the Hornets’ 6-0 rout of host West Rowan in Thursday’s Rowan County tournament title match were throw-back uniforms.
“That team right there, especially in the second half tonight, could beat a lot of people,” coach Tom Sexton said after Salisbury hoisted the championship trophy for the first time since 2005. “It was like old times. We were connected all over the field. We didn’t have guys running around just doing their own thing. We connected and we stayed connected.”
Salisbury (2-0) captured the title by outshooting West 33-4 and stuffing the net with six second-half goals. The Hornets had not scored a goal in regulation until the five-minute mark, when Matt Marshall ripped a 20-yard shot toward West keeper Nick Guertin. A rebound pinballed to teammate Paul Kollie, who banged a shot into the lower right corner.
“We got some unlucky bounces,” WR coach Ryan Villiard said after the Falcons squared their record at 1-1. “That first goal happened on a deflection. When the second one went in, we sort of put our heads down and said ‘Game over.’ ”
Salisbury’s second goal came about four minutes later when sophomore Kenne Bonilla stole the ball from a defender and whistled a 25-yard shot through a crowd and past Guertin.
“At halftime (Sexton) told us to keep our shots down and play as a team,” Bonilla said. “Once we did that, everything worked out. We knew if we could score one or two, their defense would be done. They were going to break down.”
The Hornets, who shot 0-for-22 in a tourney-opening win against Carson on Tuesday, cracked the game open with some pinpoint marksmanship midway through the second half. They netted four goals in a nine-minute span, beginning when sophomore B.J. Woods scored on a redirection play to make it 3-0.
“I was hungry,” he said, flashing a 150-watt smile. “I wanted that one bad.”
Woods was part of a significant pregame adjustment made by the SHS coaching staff. He was moved to offensive center midfield, while Bonilla switched to forward and sophomore Michael Mazur dropped to defensive center halfback.
“When we flip-flopped those guys, the positions for them are better because of their nature,” Sexton explained. “We had a heck of a lot better attack tonight. And Mazur just controlled it. Everything goes through that position, just like it did years ago with Daniel Butner.”
Mazur was cool with that. “The midfield was our area,” he said. “We tried to keep it clear and get the ball to the forwards.”
Salisbury capped its wipeout when Bonilla scored his second goal of the night by converting a throw-in from John Grant with 10 minutes to play. Matt Cervantes made it 5-0 a minute later and reserve Hanson Saryee closed the scoring with his first varsity goal with 6:30 remaining.
West’s best scoring chance came early in the match when sneaky-quick forward Denys Guerrero snapped off a close-range hummer that Salisbury keeper Connor Miller paddled over the end line.
“Salisbury’s a good team,” Villiard said. “Are they six goals better than us? No. We did the opposite of what we did in our last game. We were down 3-0 and came back to win. This time we went down 3-0 and called it quits.”