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Prep Soccer: Salisbury beats Ledford in overtime

Staff report

Salisbury’s soccer team defeated the Ledford Panthers, 5-4, in overtime, to improve to 10-6-2 overall and 9-5-1 in the Central Carolina Conference.

“It was a testy match that pushed our physical and mental resolve,” SHS coach Matt Parrish said.  “The Hornets continued their upward trend by playing literally to the last second of each frame. It was a game that every minute mattered.”

The Hornets took the lead in the first half in the 25th minute as Jack Fisher converted on a penalty kick.

Six minutes later a hard-working Dennis Anaya caused a mistake in the Ledford backline and found Melvin Bonilla on the left side of the 18-yard box. Bonilla’s slotted shot beat Ledford’s GK (Kenton Farabow) to double the lead.

It looked as if the Hornets would take that lead and all of the momentum into the break, but both were dashed when Ledford was awarded a penalty kick with 1 second (literally) left on the clock. The center and assistant official conferred and explained that although neither was looking at the clock, the 10-second countdown was between one second and zero when the foul was committed.

The second half started just as the first had, with Ledford controlling the action and dominating possession. Ledford grabbed their first tie nine minutes into the second half. Just 30 seconds later, Bonilla crossed a ball across the end line and Tony Figueroa headed it home to give the Hornets the lead right back, 3-2.

The next twenty minutes saw several opportunities for both teams.

Multiple yellow cards were issued to both sides, and Ledford knotted the match again, 3-3, with less than eight minutes left. In a night full of different turning points, perhaps the biggest was Ledford’s leading scorer, Ben Baker, being booked for his second yellow just minutes after scoring the game-tying goal.

Now down a man, Ledford appeared to finish the match it they took its first lead of the match at 4-3 with 2:44 seconds left.

“The effort demonstrated throughout the match, but particularly in the final 164 seconds, is exactly what has turned our season around,” Parrish said. “We did not have the fire at the beginning of the season that we showed tonight. The will to win can in fact be taught and can in fact be learned. The Hornets pushed at every chance and Ledford sat back and hoped to defend until the final buzzer. Fisher put the ball on frame and the opportunistic Juan Salazar buried the rebound with 18 seconds left to force overtime.

Salisbury utilized a ton of momentum and the one-man advantage right off  the bat in the overtime session. Angel Quintero found Tony Figueroa just two minutes into the first overtime to provide the winning margin.

The final 18 minutes provided nail-biting drama as Salisbury held on for the victory.

Salisbury got excellent play from Fisher, Pedro Cruz, Will Austin and Danny Tinajero.

“Again, I don’t know what caused it. I don’t honestly know where it originated, but the drive that was completely absent during the beginning of the season is the single biggest reason for our colossal turnaround,” Parrish said. ” There is always work to be done, skills to hone, and tactics to understand and execute. But the heart and guts that we showed tonight are what carried us to this win…. and a shot at the playoffs. I’m pretty sure no one gave us a chance at either at 1-5-1.”

Next up for the Hornets is Senior Night on Wednesday.  Salisbury will recognize four players playing their last season in a Salisbury uniform: Bonilla, Cruz, Tinajero and Kevin Ochoa.
Game times for the double header versus East Davidson are 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.

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