It’s tough trying to keep the Corinth Holders soccer team off the scoreboard.
After being held scoreless for the first 37 minutes of their match against Smithfield-Selma Wednesday night, the Pirates finally wore down the Spartans and captured a key 4-1 Two Rivers 3A Conference win.
Goals from Grant Austin and Aaron Lopez cam just 70 seconds apart after Corinth Holders spent a majority of the first half finding it difficult to solve the Smithfield-Selma defense.
Off a short corner kick, Austin found room in front of goal. The senior striker’s first shot was blocked by the Spartans’ Christian Torres but Austin fired home the rebound for his 15th goal of the season and a 1-0 Pirates lead with 2:35 left in the first half.
Less than one minute later, Corinth Holders earned another corner kick. Once again, they played the ball short, which allowed Lopez enough room to work his way to the corner of the penalty area before striking the ball to the near post for the two-goal lead.
After having some difficulty scoring on several corner kicks in their previous game, the Pirates worked a lot of set pieces in preparation for the show down with the Spartans.
“You take them if they give them to you,” Corinth Holders coach Brent Walston said of the quick, short corners. “You mix things up and you take what they’re giving you.”
The Pirates effectively put the game away in the 47th minute when a nice pass from Dane Martin was rewarded with an equally impressive shot from Jackson Creech into the lower corner of the goal for a 3-0 lead early in the closing half.
Dalton Parker closed the scoring for Corinth Holders on another rebound shot that found the back of the net.
“I think we wore them down a little bit,” Walston said. “I think our depth and our quickness wore them down.”
The Pirates, ranked fourth in The News and Observer’s Raleigh Metro area rankings, improved to 13-0 for the season and 4-0 inside their conference, a game ahead of Cleveland in the standings.
Corinth Holders has received goals from 11 different players who have combined to tally 57 goals on the season.
Smithfield-Selma (4-7, 2-2) finished the game strong, as Daniel Avila began to find small pockets of space to work with and push the attack.
Avila maneuvered his way for two point blank shots in the final 20 minutes of the contest only to have the Pirates’ Christian Green deny him both times.
Teammate Johnny Ventura prevented the clean sheet for Green, however, when his blast from over 25 yards out skipped past Green.
“I think the guys played hard but the other team was playing much better,” Smithfield-Selma coach Raul Mentiver said. “I think they are a stronger team. They are playing a lot of guys they had last year where we lost a lot of seniors from last year.
“But my guys played hard and finished strong; I’m proud of them.”
The Spartans won the conference title a season ago and defeated the second place Pirates two times en route to the championship.
That fact had not escaped many of the players’ minds heading into the game which, if the Spartans had won, could have left the two sides tied atop the league standings.
“We’re doing so well this season, we just need to take everything one game at a time,” said Green, a four-year veteran of the varsity team. “We were obviously looking forward to this game but we’re just taking it game-by-game, step-by-step right now.”