Cha's Goal Propels Vikings Past Nemesis Harnett Central
Brian Hayes had Wednesday's game with Harnett Central marked on his calendar for a long time.
The Trojans (6-3, 3-1) defeated Hayes and Union Pines twice last season en route to the Cape Fear Valley conference title.
Hayes and the Vikes (6-1, 3-0) exacted some revenge Wednesday as Allan Cha scored the game's only goal with 21:47 remaining in the second half to give the Vikings a 1-0 win and sole posession of first place in the conference.
"After losing twice to these guys last year, this one definitely feels great," said Hayes, who assisted on Cha's goal. "I think it sends a message to our conference, as well as all the other teams we are going to play, that we are out for business and we don't mess around anymore."
The match was the first true litmus test for a Viking team that entered the season with several questions regarding just how competitive they may be in the CFV conference. The Trojans took the 2007 league title with a 12-0-2 mark, beating Union Pines twice and forcing the Vikings to settle for second place.
Wednesday, the Vikings failed to convert several prime scoring chances.
Union Pines' leading scorer Va Cha had two breakaway, one-on-one attempts against Central's goal keeper, but didn't capitalize. Then Allan Cha failed to convert on a penalty kick in the 65th minute.
Despite the inability to score early, Union Pines head coach Jeremy Blake was pleased with his team's play.
"We were able to stay intense even though we had three tough breaks." said Blake. "That really showed some character on the part of my guys -- I mean we could have easily been up three or four goals, but the guys stayed focused and keep working at it."
Union Pines dominated play early, controlling the vast majority of 50-50 balls and forcing the action and the pace of the match. The Vikes outshot the Trojans 7-2 in the first half.
"I thought Jacob Wilson played very, very well in the midfield for us," Blake said, "and our back four (Kyle McLean, David Ward, Hayes and Cannon Walden) have been steady and strong as of late, and had another fine showing. Our keeper Aaron Moore also had a big game tonight; he came up well and controlled things out there."
While the Vikes did have a marked edge in time of possession, they seemed out of sorts and even disjointed at times in the first half when controlling the ball on offense.
"Overall, we did not possess the ball that well tonight," said Hayes. "We had spurts of good moments (on offense) but were a bit inconsistent. We were too eager to get in when we should have just possessed, held the ball longer and worked for higher quality scoring opportunities."
The Vikings got a golden opportunity to take a lead in the last 15 seconds of the first half, as Va Cha broke loose, setting up a one-on-one run with Central's keeper Hampton Howell. However, he was unable to get the ball in the goal. Just a little more than ten minutes into the second stanza, he got another breakaway but again was beaten by Howell. Howell saved nine shots in the match. The biggest one came with 24:43 left in regulation, when Viking midfielder Allan Cha booted a penalty kick that landed right in his breadbasket.
"I was expecting overtime at that point," Hayes said, "I just did not see us scoring because we had so many chances and they were not falling."
Less than three minutes later, Allan Cha would atone for his miss.
He controlled the ball on a 16-yard through from Hayes and slammed it home into the left corner of the net to give Union Pines a 1-0 lead.
"I felt like I had to redeem myself after missing the penalty kick," Cha said, "and I am just happy I could help my team win by scoring a goal tonight."
Hayes said Allan Cha displayed a tremendous amount of composure under pressure.
"Allan (Cha) did a great job of keeping his head up," said Hayes. "That showed a lot of maturity on his part to go ahead and get that goal for us after missing that PK (penalty kick)."
The Trojans mounted a late run in an effort to tie the match, getting off four shots in the last 18 minutes. Their most serious threat came in the 68th minute, when Central's forward Hector Ayala, a 2007 all-region honoree, received a through ball at the left center of the penalty box. Facing a clear lane to the goal, Ayala mounted his charge but Hayes came from the backside and made a miraculous clear.
"When that ball went through I had some flashbacks to plays early on in my career," said Hayes. "A few times in the past, when I was younger, I committed fouls on plays like that. Since then I have learned how to get stuck-in on a tackle cleanly, and somehow I was able to come in from behind and get all ball, while also putting a little body on him too."
With the victory Union Pines is now undefeated at 3-0 in conference play (6-1 overall) and alone in first place. Central is now 3-1 in league action and 6-3 overall. Union Pines finishes the week tonight on the road in Fayetteville, as they take on 4A Jack Britt (2-5, 2-1) in a non-conference match slated to start at 7 p.m.
F.W. Manning II can be reached at email@example.com or by cell at (910) 639-5481.
More like this story