'Stang Booters Top Defending Champs
The North Moore boys' soccer team and a small, but noisy gathering of supporters were gleeful as the clock wound down on Wednesday's home match.
Aspirations for a Yadkin Valley Conference title might have gone poof if the Mustangs couldn't defeat Thomasville.
They began a week of matches against the 2004 and 2005 1-A state champions with an excruciating overtime loss at Jordan-Matthews (2004) on Monday.
Carlos Avila scored twice, while Raul Chavez had a goal and an assist as the Mustangs bounced back with a stunningly one-sided 4-1 victory over the defending state champion Thomasville squad.
"Coach (Michael Shamberger) really worked us hard yesterday and motivated us today," Chavez said. "We got the job done."
The popular Shamberger has been involved with the Mustang soccer program since its inception in 1999. After Wednesday's match he announced to his team that this will be his last season as their coach.
"You know the gift I'd like to have," he told them with a smile.
Winning a conference title in undisputedly the toughest 1-A league in the state is a daunting task. In Monday's and Wednesday's matches the Mustangs looked like they might be up to it.
All of the first-half scoring on Wednesday came in the first four minutes of the match. Avila almost made it look easy, working his way through several defenders for a goal in the second minute.
The Bulldogs' Hector Gonzalez countered with a chip over the reach of the Mustang goalkeeper a couple of minutes later.
Controlling play more and more as the first half went on, the home team completely dominated the second half.
Avila struck early again, using his ball skills to beat the defense for the goal that made it 2-1 in the first minute after the intermission.
Then in the 55th minute, Chavez delivered a gorgeous ball that set up the goal that broke the back of the Bulldogs.
"I call that the 'gota ball,'" Chavez said, having some fun.
"He just made that up," Diego Garcia chimed in as other teammates cracked up with him.
Made up or not, the description fit. Gota means "drop" in Spanish. The lofted pass from about 30 yards out on the right side of the field cleared the Bulldog defenders and fell into the stride of Eric Diaz. The Mustang forward finished the job with his first touch for a 3-1 Mustang lead.
In a half that the Mustangs took 10 shots to only two for the Bulldogs, Chavez blasted home a rebound in the 71st minute to complete the scoring.
"What I liked tonight," Shamberger said, "was that we kept building throughout the game -- we got stronger."
A big part of the story was the solid play in the back by the Mustang defenders. They shut things down after living dangerously early because of penetrations by the talented Gonzalez.
"I had to stay behind him and we put a mark on him," Mustang sweeper Manny Mendoza said of the second-half success against Gonzalez who had four shots in the first half, but none in the second. "That way he couldn't score."
Shamberger has the most depth at the defender positions he has ever had. Ozzie Castillo, Rogelio Catalan, Jonni Lopez, Joaquin Diaz, John Griffith and Omar Gonzalez were among those taking turns in the back. Eric Diaz and Bernardo Cruz shared the goalkeeping.
"We've got good defenders back there," Shamberger said. "Manny is rock solid."
The Mustang coach says this team has worked harder than any he has ever had.
"But we have to or we will be left behind," he said. "This conference is so strong."
Jordan-Matthews (fourth), Thomasville (fifth) and North Moore (seventh) were all ranked in the top 10 this week. East Montgomery, the only unbeaten team in conference play, is unranked only because all of its scores have not been reported to the pollsters.
Principal Mike Tylavsky joined the team huddle for Mustang coach's announcement.
Shamberger and his wife Cynthia will be moving to High Point in late October or early November. He currently works in Greensboro, and she is studying for her doctorate in education at UNC-Greensboro.
"It's going to be hard to leave," Shamberger said, "because I've enjoyed these boys every year I've had them."
On Monday, North Moore took a 2-0 lead on goals by Chavez and Avila, but Jordan-Mathews came back to tie the match, forcing overtime. The Jets scored four times in the two extra periods to hand the Mustangs a 6-2 loss.
The Mustangs are off until next Wednesday when they entertain South Davidson in a 6:30 p.m. start.
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