CARY — The Holly Springs boys’ soccer team continued its rise in the Tri-9 Conference with three early goals to win its fifth straight league match Tuesday night, 3-0 at the Cary Imps' home field.
The Golden Hawks finished last in the league last year, but are in second place, 6-3 in the conference and 8-5 overall.
"We played possession soccer on a big field, got it wide, had our chances and buried them right off the bat," said Holly Springs first-year coach Brian Miller of the early offensive explosion. "No better way to start the game than to put one in 20 seconds into the game."
Justin Gonzalez got that initial score in just 24 seconds on a short shot with an assist from Tyler Shade. Four minutes later Shade had another assist to Keenan McDiarmid for a score and then McDiarmid added the third goal just before the 13 minute mark, with Gonzalez getting the assist.
Cary, 4-5 in the conference, was coming off a 4-0 win over Athens Drive Monday night. Against the Jaguars, Luis Toleda de Jesus and Hunter Murray scored and Martin Konig added two goals.
"We really didn't wake up until about 20 minutes into the game," said Cary assistant coach Laura Kerrigan, who is leading the Imps this week while head coach Mike Dunphy is out of town.
"Not taking anything away from them, they're a very strong team,but we felt like we spotted them three goals. But I am very proud of the way we played the last 60 minutes of the game. We almost scored several goals, we had a lot of chances. Yesterday we played very well and we need to put it together and play for 80 minutes. Kahlil Selby had some wonderful saves in goal in the second half."
Holly Springs first-year coach Brian Miller gives a lot of the credit for his team's success to a balanced offensive attack and a very strong foursome on defense.
"Really the goals have been spread out on the team,"Miller said. "Oscar Villalta has eight or nine goals, Gonzalez has six or seven, McDiarmid has six or seven. The assists and goals are coming from everyone, a team effort to get that ball in the net.
"Our back four is tremendous, John McNulty at left back is playing out of his mind right now," Miller said. "Both centerbacks, Mike Friedrich and Josh Kaplan, are stepping up and Tyler Shade is the other outside back. Those four play almost every single minute of every single game. In the past week we've given up three goals in five games.
McNulty, a junior who played on the last place Hawks team a year ago, gives a lot of the credit to Miller.
"There's a lot more communication and leadership on this team," McNulty said. "A lot more organized."
Miller said his team is now looking to avenge an earlier loss to Panther Creek.
"This is five conference wins in a row, so we are rolling and hopefully we can keep it up against Panther Creek on Monday," Miller said. "Their coach, David Grant, and I played high school and college soccer together in Buffalo. They got us the first time, so I told him I've got to get him the next time. We're still best friends and it's fun to coach against your friends."