Apparently, not all unbeaten Southwest Wake Athletic Conference boys soccer teams are built alike.
Less than a week after Holly Springs lost 7-0 to No. 2-ranked Apex, the Golden Hawks took a 1-0 lead and nearly upset The News & Observer’s No. 3-ranked Middle Creek before falling 2-1 Monday night to the Mustangs.
Middle Creek (8-0, 4-0) and Apex entered the week with 3-0 SWAC records. Holly Springs, ranked No. 12, dropped to 4-2-2 and 1-2-1.
“One of the things we lacked last week was overall effort as a team,” Holly Springs coach Joey Will said. “That was one of the things we focused on. Effort-wise, even though we lost, this was one of the best games we’ve played in terms of everybody working together and defending as a team. Unfortunately, they’ve got a very big weapon, and they utilized it very well. That’s going to be hard to defend.”
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The big weapon was 6-foot-4, 210-pound forward Tyler Conrad, who tied the game 1-1 five minutes into the second half. He scored on a header off a throw-in from 20 yards out by Chris Wallace.
The Mustangs avoided overtime with a winning header goal by Brad Van Hulst off a corner kick from Colin Frie with 2:39 left in the match.
Middle Creek kept the pressure on right up to its game-winning goal. Holly Springs’ goalie Hunter Nordberg had recorded a nice save moments before the Mustangs were awarded a corner kick.
“It’s a set play we’ve worked on time and time again in practice,” Frie said.
They said it
“8 and 0! 8 and 0!” was the chant that arose from the Middle Creek side of the stadium after Van Hulst scored.
3 who mattered
Holly Springs’ Clay Alligood: He gave the Hawks a 1-0 on a header off a free kick from Brent Mahasi with 15:11 left in the first half. The free kick from 25 yards out was sent toward the right end of the net with a bend. Alligood adeptly timed his leap to connect.
Middle Creek defender Eder Montalvo: He thwarted Holly Springs’ late-scoring opportunity on a throw-in with 40 seconds to play with a heads-up play. Montalvo stepped out of a crowd and squarely head-butted the ball 15 yards up field before a teammate covered. The ball was quickly cleared by a teammate to prevent Holly Springs from another scoring opportunity as time expired.
Middle Creek goalie Cameron Cornwell: The junior finished the night with 14 saves. His first save on a breakaway could have spotted the Hawks a 1-0 lead in the first five minutes. He shifted to the right side of the goal and took a hard shot to the chest that knocked him to the turf.
Middle Creek coach Guy Coleman called for more focus from his team in a post-game huddle. He cited sloppy play in the first half until the Middle Creek mounted a second-half comeback.