Mustangs Stop Monroe in Soccer Playoffs
For the second straight season, the North Moore boys’ soccer team won its opening game in the state 1-A playoffs. Thanks to a hat trick by sophomore Pedro Ugarte and a strong defense, including some breathtaking saves by sophomore goalkeeper Danny Garcia, the Mustangs held off Monroe 3-2 Wednesday in Robbins.
“It’s always good to get that first win,” said North Moore coach Michael Shamberger, whose team climbs to 11-4-1 for the season. “The defense did a good job of clearing the ball when they (Monroe) got into scoring range. Fernando Lopez did a great job covering their best player, and our midfielders (Alejandro Mendoza, Gerbacio Cabrera and Fredy Loza) did a good job of winning the ball.
“Danny (Garcia) had a couple of great saves, and he’s been doing that all season long for us. And our sweeper Oliver Castrejon did a good job for us too.”
The Mustangs, the No. 2 seed from the Yadkin Valley Conference, travel to East Surry Saturday for their second-round match-up. The Cardinals are the No. 1 seed from the Northwestern 1-A/2-A Conference with an 11-8-1 record.
Monroe came into the match as a wild card, sporting an 11-10 record, from the Rocky River 1-A/2-A Conference. The visiting Red Hawks came out aggressive and starting putting pressure on the Mustangs’ defense. Monroe’s Antonio Rivera broke free in the first minute-and-half, but the shot was wide.
After a couple of minutes, the momentum shifted to North Moore when Monroe fouled Cabrera, giving the Mustangs a free kick. However Loza’s boot was cleared by the Monroe defenders.
The momentum shifted back and forth until the 14:32 mark when Ugarte received a pass from Loza and launched a shot over the goalkeeper’s head into the goal for the first of his three goals.
Later in the first half, between the seven- and eight-minute marks, the Mustangs had three straight corner kicks but were unable to find a way to put the ball into the Hawks’ goal. During the final seconds of the half, Monroe got an open shot, but the ball flew over the cross bar, leaving North Moore up 1-0 at the break.
The Mustangs appeared to hold the upper hand as the second half got started. Then in a flurry of just over four minutes, three goals were scored, two by the Mustangs. Monroe tied the contest at the 32:52 mark on a free kick by Brian Lerma from 10 yards out.
Just 55 seconds later, North Moore went back on top 2-1 on a penalty kick booted by Ugarte. Ugarte added his third goal with 28:42 left in the match on a breakaway. When the Monroe goalkeeper came out to meet Ugarte, he streaked by him, putting the ball into the net for a 3-1 Mustang advantage.
North Moore dodged a bullet with 23:01 left when Monroe’s Lerma missed a penalty kick that hit the cross bar. Garcia came up with his best save with 16:41 left when Rivera had an open shot from about eight yards out, but Garcia smothered the ball for the save.
Monroe tacked on its final goal with 23 seconds left in the contest on a goal by Rivera, making the final score 3-2.
North Moore had six corner kicks to Monroe’s one while North Moore outshot the Hawks 11 to nine and Garcia finished with five saves and Monroe’s goalkeeper Everardo Melchor finished with three.
The winner of the North Moore-East Surry match will play the winner of the Union Academy-Lake Norman Charter match in the third round. Lake Norman received a first-round bye while wild card Union beat Albemarle 6-1 in the first round.
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