FUQUAY-VARINA — As threat after threat dissipated, an encouraging Fuquay-Varina fan continued to yell, "It's coming!"
The fan was more than right, as the Bengals' persistent offense struck with three second-half goals to knock off Garner – No. 8 in the News & Observer rankings – 4-2 on Wednesday night.
"Fuquay is here to reestablish a reputation and a winning culture," Fuquay coach Todd Dowler said. "We had a rebuilding season last year. This is a group of guys who want to develop their own identity, and they want to make something special happen this year. We're heading in the right direction."
The Bengals (2-1-2) were certainly moving in the right direction Wednesday night, and that was toward the Trojan goal. Dean Rutherford and Johnathan Stehlik scored two goals apiece, with Stehlik getting the go-ahead goal. Holden Bryant was effective in the midfield, with his creativity getting open shots for his teammates, including both of Stehlik's scores.
"This is a strong team, and second half, my boys even said it coming off, 'Their guys were working harder,'" Garner coach Jon Sherwin said. "Some of the runs they were making first half, our guys were doing it better. Second half, they came out and played their game.
"I don't think we changed actually. We played the whole game about the same, but they came out and beat us second half."
Fuquay struck first when Rutherford drilled in a shot from about 10 yards out 6:07 into the game. The Bengals kept up the pressure but couldn't score, though Rutherford banged two shots off the post.
Garner tied it at 1-1 on a Bryson White goal and then took the lead late in the first half when Duncan Foster, fresh off the Trojan bench, took a nifty pass from Marco Perez and scored to send Garner into halftime with a 2-1 lead.
But Fuquay kept coming.
"We came out and dominated, but they stuck to their game plan," Dowler said. "They took us out of our game plan, completely. They caused our forwards to have to make adjustments in the first half, but in the second half, we came up with another game plan and tried something a little different. We pushed the back line, and it made the difference."
After Rutherford missed on three scoring chances early in the second half, he finally scored at the 21:22 mark to tie the game. Rutherford later had two more shots on goal that missed, but Stehlik and Bryant hooked up for two goals in a span of 2:24 later in the game for the Bengals to put away the Trojans (1-2-2).
"There are things we can work on, like some of the things we saw Fuquay doing: Cleaner passes, passing with purpose, balls to corners," Sherwin said. "But when you lose to a team that's a really good team, you just have to say, 'We played our best, we played hard, and we got beaten.' It's a credit to them."