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Bisesi column: Hornets held their emotions in check

SALISBURY — Glory came across in several forms for the Salisbury soccer team Saturday at WakeMed Soccer Park.
The welt in defenseman John Canipe’s arm, the gimp in Kenny Bonilla’s knee, cramps in both of Emmy Turcios’ feet.
Oh, and the final score at the end of the game.
The Hornets went through the gamut of emotions in the 3-2 state championship win against Carrboro. They were leading, tied, hurt, frustrated, distraught, relieved, you name it. But adversity, nor Carrboro, was going to win after a journey that started in August.
“I just really think it was meant to be,” Bonilla said.

And why not? Saturday’s game was emblematic of the playoff run that showed a flair for the dramatic. The Hornets rallied from a 2-0 deficit against Shelby to win the West region. A goal in the final two minutes of regulation tied it in an overtime win against Cuthbertson. The Hornets never trailed against Carrboro, but other issues mounted.
The bench looked like an infirmary at times. Senior forward Hanson Saryee came out with cramps in both legs in the second half. Offensive leader Kenny Bonilla came out midway through the second half with a right knee injury and Turcios came out in the second overtime after cramping up and went on to score the game-winning goal.
“He’s saved us so many times,” said Bonilla of Turcios. “I love that kid.”
Canipe saved a goal in the second overtime by colliding with the post to preserve Salisbury’s 2-1 lead. The sophomore defenseman shook it off and finished out the game.
“It was coming right at near post,” Canipe said. “All I knew was I couldn’t let them win.”

After 26 games, Salisbury didn’t yield, relent or render and it wasn’t going to happen with the state title on the line. Despite key players being out of the game, the plan didn’t alter.
“If you miss a piece of the puzzle, you don’t change the puzzle, you find a new piece,” said Salisbury coach first-year head coach Matt Parrish.
Thankfully for the Hornets and their deep bench, quality overcame quantity.
“When Kenny got hurt, it was a big problem,” Spencer Dixon said. “But we have enough bench that we have other people that can come on.”
Two days after fulfilling his “greatest sports moment,” with the game-winner against Shelby, freshman Michael Brown scored in the first overtime session off a scramble in front.
“It’s been crazy in the playoffs,” Brown said. “Every game we’ve been down and we just keep on fighting through.”
After Brown’s goal, Carrboro tied it on Sam Hickey’s volley past Connor Miller with 4:17. The roller coaster of emotion took a massive drop.
“I was devastated,” Parrish said. “But in that moment, you can’t wilt. I didn’t throw my hat, didn’t shake my head, It makes us weak.”
Sudden death came and Salisbury didn’t want to take it to penalty kicks. Parrish said a goal in the first two minutes was crucial with the Hornets rampant with fatigue. Salisbury struck a blow that couldn’t be answered 1:50 into the session.

When Turcios’ second goal sealed it, Parrish showed track-star speed on the run to the other side of the stadium. Pandemonium erupted from the Salisbury fans as the Hornets clinched their third state title this month.
The program from last year’s season-ending loss East Lincoln, which Parrish kept in his pocket for each game this season, didn’t weigh him down. After the game he took it out and read the quote he inscribed on it: “The question isn’t who’s going to let me, the question is who’s going to stop me.”
“No matter what they say, this medal will still be around my neck, that ring will still on my finger and that trophy will still be in the school until the end of time.” Parrish said.
Somehow, Salisbury found a way to win in the playoffs. Style points were superfluous when hardware was at stake.
“I don’t know how to epress it,” Turcios said. “I’m so happy.”

Contact Ryan Bisesi at 704-797-4258 or rbisesi@salisburypost.com.

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