Prep Soccer Playoffs: Salisbury 5, Randleman 0
By Mike London
SALISBURY — Salisbury soccer struggled for a half, but Emmy Turcios’ hat track —in an explosive span of five minutes — was a reminder of how special this team can be.
Turcios’ spree energized the Hornets to a 5-0 win against Randleman in the second round of the 2A playoffs on Saturday. It was in the second round that SHS’ season screeched to a halt in 2010.
“Our fear was that we could come here and play our best game and it still wouldn’t be good enough,” Randleman coach Sean Fitzgibbon said. “Salisbury is a quality side — the best we’ve played.”John Grant set up two goals with perfect corners. B.J. Woods, a football hero, had to be exhausted but worked tirelessly in the midfield. Spencer Dixon anchored the defense’s 14th shutout. Connor Miller made two exceptional saves.
Kenny Bonilla had an assist and put the exclamation point on the chilly evening with a late rocket for his 21st goal.
Randleman (10-9-2), a conference champ, came to Ludwig Stadium with a solid plan — harass the ball and prevent the Hornets from getting into any sort of offensive flow.
“We wanted to put so much pressure on them that they couldn’t find our weak spots,” Fitzgibbon explained.
SHS coach Matt Parrish said the fourth-ranked Hornets (20-1-1) played right into the Tigers hands for a half.
“We talked about maintaining possession and keeping the ball out of the middle,” he said. “But then we went out and did the opposite. They funneled everything to the middle and it was just a sloppy, ugly quagmire of soccer.”
John Canipe’s header off a corner made it 1-0 in the 8th minute, but that’s all the Hornets had to show for the first half. They led at the break only because Miller made an acrobatic, sliding save with 5:35 left on the clock.
“We had good defensive position in front of the guy (striker Paco Cortez), but he broke free 20 yards out,” Miller said. “He was falling down, but he still made really solid contact with the ball. I just happened to be in the right position.”
Fitzgibbon felt that was the game’s pivotal moment.
“That save was the game-changer,” he said.
Parrish refocused the Hornets at halftime, and they executed much better in the second half. Turcios caught fire three minutes after the break. His header off Grant’s corner made it 2-0 and forced changes to Randleman’s strategy.
“We just couldn’t get going in the first half,” Bonilla said. “But the second half is when we started winning balls on their side of the field.”
The goal that made it 3-0 was sheer hustle by Turcios. He made a steal, then beat multiple diving defenders.
“Emmy’s a ballhawk and very strong with the ball,” Parrish said. “When he sees open grass, he’s just very difficult to stop. He’s one of the most dynamic young players I’ve seen in my 11 years here.”
Bonilla’s slick pass led to the final goal of Turcios’ flurry — his 14th of the season.
Salisbury hosts strong Cuthbertson on Wednesday.