Mustangs Hold Off Rebel Bulls in Soccer
NM Soccer: 2011 Playoffs RND 1
Action from the Mustangs 3-0 victory over South Stanly Wednesday, in the opening round of the 1-A state playoffs in Robbins. Photos by Donna Ford.
The North Moore boys’ soccer team defeated South Stanly 3-0 Wednesday in an opening round state 1-A playoff match in Robbins.
A brilliant shot by the Mustangs’ Luis Solache, on a bicycle kick from 16 yards out, resulted in the only score of the first half. The goal gave the home team a 1-0 lead in the 22nd minute.
“When I scored that goal it made me feel great for my team,” Solache said, “especially because it was a playoff game and helped us get to the next round. I knew the goal would build our team confidence and allow us to play better. So it felt good to be able to do it for my team and do it for North Moore.”
Less than two minutes after Solache gave the Mustangs a lead, the visiting Rebel Bulls were awarded a penalty kick. However, Mustang freshman keeper Juan Garcia made an amazing save on the would-be neutralizer. When the shot was taken, the young goalie broke left but still managed to stretch his right leg against his momentum. With his right foot, Garcia was able to deflect the ball off path to keep South Stanly off the scoreboard.
“I really got nervous right before that kick,” said Garcia. “Luckily, because of my height, I was able to make the save. If I was shorter, I would not have been able to reach that ball. To be able to make that save felt very good because I was able to come up big for my team.”
Although Mustang head coach Michael Shamberger admitted Garcia’s save on the PK was a crucial one, it is something he has grown accustomed to seeing from his starting keeper.
“Juan Garcia did an outstanding job for us tonight,” said Shamberger. “I believe he has saved four PK shots this season, which is amazing.”
At intermission, the match still stood at 1-0 in favor of North Moore.
After 13 minutes of second-half action, the Rebel Bulls unleashed a 19-minute offensive barrage. Over the stretch, the visitors dominated possession and won a clear majority of 50-50 balls. They also outshot the Mustangs 9-2 in the span and totaled five corner kicks.
However, Garcia and his back line of Gerbacio Cabrera, Fredy Loza and Brandon Ambriz hung tough to maintain its 1-0 advantage.
North Moore then scored on a masterful one-two ball that Rolando Catalan finished for a goal in the 75th minute to make the margin 2-0 in favor of the Mustangs.
Cabrera initiated the scoring play from the back, with a well-placed long ball up field that found Pedro Ugarte near the right corner of the box. After Ugarte’s attempt was blocked, Catalan was there to clean up the rebound for the pivotal goal.
Less than two minutes later, Solache slammed the door shut on South Stanly for good, with his second score of the night. The goal came on a shot he drilled into the uppermost left corner. Ugarte was credited with his second assist of the match on the play that gave the Mustangs a 3-0 edge with 1:36 remaining in the contest
“South Stanly wanted this game and they were aggressive at the start of both halves,” said Shamberger. “I knew coming in that this would be a tough one, because both of our other two were one-goal games.”
North Moore finished tied for second in the Yadkin Valley Conference (YVC) standings with a record of 8-4 and entered the tilt as the league’s third seed. Meanwhile South Stanly, also from the YVC, earned its way into the playoffs via a wild-card berth. The Mustangs swept the Rebel Bulls in league play this season, including a 5-4 win in Robbins and a 1-0 victory at South Stanly High.
“My guys were also noticeably nervous before the match,” Shamberger said, “and a few of them even told me they were nervous. So I think nerves did factor into our play a little there, as the second half got under way.
“This season has been a ride. It’s been an enjoyable ride and an interesting one, where the challenge has been to take this team from where they started this summer, to where they are now.”
North Moore improved to 10-8-2 with the playoff victory. The Mustangs travel to Huntersville Saturday to take on the Lake Norman Charter School Knights (15-3-2, Southern Piedmont top seed) in second-round NCHSAA playoff action.
“Our team has definitely surpassed my expectations this season,” said Shamberger. “I kept raising the bar — I would tell them, ‘OK, you guys made it this far, now let’s go to the next level’ — and they kept right on meeting my challenges, so I just told them again, ‘OK, you won this one, let’s take this ride as far as you guys want to go.’”
Contact F.W. Manning II at email@example.com
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