RALEIGH — Aaron Latigue’s older brothers Nate and Gabe starred at Panther Creek and in college (Gabe is now with the New England Revolution of Major League Soccer).
Nate and Gabe helped the Catamounts capture their only conference title. Aaron goes to Holly Springs.
He can’t walk in their footsteps, but he can be a part of something special just as they were.
Latigue and the rest of the Golden Hawks are off to a good start to the year, and it was his 20-yard free kick with less than 10 minutes left wrapped up a 2-0 win against Southwest Wake Athletic Conference opponent Athens Drive Wednesday night.
The shot bended into the upper left corner of the goal, making it impossible for goalkeeper Gabe Price to get a mitt on.
“I wanted to take it, because I felt a goal coming. I saw the wall and I saw the angle the keeper gave me, so I took it,” Latigue said.
Athens Drive coach Travis Seese said U.S. Men’s National Team goalkeeper Tim Howard could have been in net and still not saved it.
“It still would’ve gone in. That was just a great strike,” he said.
Holly Springs, ranked eighth in the News & Observer rankings, was coming off a loss as was seventh-ranked Athens Drive (4-4-1, 0-2). Holly Springs (4-2-2, 1-1) had lost to No. 9 Fuquay-Varina. Athens Drive had fallen to No. 14 Panther Creek.
Six SWAC teams are in the N&O top 15 area rankings.
“Every Monday-Wednesday is going to be a battle,” Holly Springs coach Brian Miller said.
Drive goalkeeper Price made many saves in the contest, and the Jaguars were under siege by speedy Holly Springs wingers Adolfo Ramirez and Justin Gonzalez.
The versatile Keenan McDiarmid adjusted and became the Hawks’ target man on the night, holding the ball up and playing passes out wide.
“Usually it doesn’t take too long,” into the game to know what role he’ll be playing, said McDiarmid.
McDiarmid was in the right place to slam home a rebound after a Latigue shot in the 44th minute hit the post.
“I got the first goal, and we started to pick it up a lot more,” McDiarmid said.
Athens Drive’s Mac Garrett, Kyle Ryan and Grant Finkbeiner came close on some tries for the Jaguars. All efforts towards Holly Springs left back Jon McNulty, however, were often snuffed out quickly.
“Usually center backs get the recognition, but he is absolutely tremendous. He could go play college soccer anywhere he wanted to, but he wants to focus on school,” Miller said.
Holly Springs has 11 seniors who want to go far in the playoffs. The hope is that juniors like Latigue, Addison Faw and Franc Velasquez can mesh to accomplish the goal.
As for Athens Drive, it may have lost three straight, but the Jaguars still have some nice wins on the season. After Thursday’s game against Northern Durham, Athens will have played five games in seven days.
“We could’ve spread the games out a little bit,” said Seese, who was overall pleased with his team’s effort despite the workload. “We struggled in that final (scoring) third... going forward it’ll be something we focus on.”
Blake: 919-460-2606; Twitter: @JMBpreps