Prep Soccer: Salisbury advances to state championship
By Clark Leonard
SHELBY — It was a cruel ending to a prosperous mutli-year run for the Shelby High boys soccer team on Thursday night.
Down two players for the final 23:13 and one player for the final 67:30, the Golden Lions fell 3-2 to Salisbury in the 2A West finals at Blanton Memorial Stadium.
“You can only weather the storm so long,” Shelby coach David Steeves said.
The loss ended Shelby’s hopes of three consecutive state titles and sent the Hornets into Saturday’s state championship against Carrboro in Cary.
“These seniors built such a reputation across the state over the last four years,” Steeves said. “They’ve played hard for me. I can’t thank them enough for the last four years.”
Steeves passionately contested the pair of red cards that sidelined Shelby seniors — Mason McCarter in the 13th minute and Shem Blackley almost midway through the second half — at the time of the cards. Afterwards, he applauded his team for pushing through and still nearly prevailing.
“(There was) a lot of adversity. It’s hard to play in that situation,” Steeves said. “The kids played hard, gave me everything they had.”
Despite playing with fewer guys, the Golden Lions held a 2-1 lead with five minutes remaining. But a pair of goals 37 seconds apart proved to be decisive.
Kenny Bonilla’s goal with 4:53 remaining tied it 2-2 before teammate Michael Brown, Salisbury’s lone freshman, put home what proved to be the game-winner with 4:16 left.
“It’s one of the best games I’ve ever been a part of,” Salisbury coach Matt Parrish said. “I wish it would have been played 11 (versus) 11, but you play the cards you’re dealt.”
Parrish also said he “wouldn’t have called the second red card.”
Shelby had responded quickly after McCarter went out with a red card, scoring just 25 seconds later when Michael Cheaney took a pass from Jerry Zeller and put it in the back of the net with 27:05 remaining in the first half.
Not even eight minutes later, Phillip Richards made a strong run that finished with a goal and a 2-0 Golden Lion edge.
But it was Emmy Turcios’ header off a John Grant corner kick with about 4:45 left in the half that proved crucial in helping change the momentum.
“Getting the first back by the half was huge,” Parrish said.
The action was mostly on Shelby’s end of the field in the second half, which only became more pronounced after Blackley’s exit. Consistent scoring chances eventually paid off for Salisbury. The playing with fewer players was even more pronounced with Ryan Brentlinger sidelined after receiving two yellow cards in Saturday’s win against East Lincoln.