Clayton’s soccer team started slowly against Garner, falling behind 1-0, but the Comets put together a fantastic finish Monday night.
The Comets scored four unanswered goals to win 4-1 in a key early season match in the Greater Neuse River 4A Conference. The two teams entered the match with 2-1 marks in the league, one game behind leader Southeast Raleigh. Harnett Central also entered the week with a 2-1 league mark.
“Unfortunately, we have been starting a little slow lately,” Clayton coach John Asmussen said. “That’s kind of our M.O. right now. But we knocked the ball around well tonight. We were happy with the way we played, especially in the second half.”
The Comets (6-4, 3-1 GNRC) broke a 1-1 halftime tie with a goal from Daniel Alioto in the 55th minute and added goals from Brandon Sainz on a penalty kick and Sean Kimble later in the second half.
The penalty kick goal came after Garner’s Amos Kalambayi used his hand to stop a shot from going in right on the goal line, an automatic red card and a penalty kick from point-blank range in front of the goal for the Comets’ Sainz.
Garner (3-6-1, 2-2) scored first on a nice goal from freshman Lucas Quiroga in the 15th minute. But the Trojans couldn’t find the net the rest of the game.
“I thought our kids played exceptionally well,” Garner coach Ben Bondurant said. “We had the opportunities, we just didn’t finish them. That’s what it came down to.”
The Comets got a first-half goal from Jorge Alsonso, who stole a pass in front of the Trojans’ goal and beat the keeper to tie it at 1-1 in the 24th minute.
Alioto’s goal.It came on a crossing pass from Juan Alvarado, putting the Comets in front to stay and giving Clayton a big momentum boost.
“I just kind of put it in,” Alioto said. “All the credit goes to Jorge (Alsonso, who passed the ball to Alvarado to begin the play) and Juan. … Juan just set the ball up right in front of the goal. It was nothing much (to score). It was a simple ball.”
Asmussen called the play “textbook.”
“Juan got into space,” Asmussen said. “He picked his head up and saw Daniel on the far post and played a very unselfish ball across to him. That’s textbook, that’s unselfish play. I thought we kind of kicked into gear right there.”
They said it
“In this conference, anybody can beat anybody,” Asmussen said. “It’s very balanced. Every game is tough in this conference. It’s important to win at home and this was a big win. We’ve still got to go there and play them.”
Three who mattered
Daniel Alioto, Clayton: The Clayton senior put himself in perfect position on the go-ahead goal and didn’t try to do too much when Alvarado gave him the perfect pass – calmly booting it into the open goal.
Brandon Sainz, Clayton: The Comets senior controlled the ball on offense for Clayton, doing a good job of keeping the ball in the attacking zone. He made sure on the penalty kick, sending a strong kick to the left of a diving Garner keeper.
“To go up two goals is a big deal,” Asmussen said. “That third goal was important.”
Lucas Quiroga, Garner: The freshman gave the Comets fits in the early going, Asmussen said.
“He was killing us in the beginning,” Asmussen said. “We man marked him and tried to slow him down. That really helped a lot.”