EAST BEND - In a chippy, physical rivalry game, Forbush held on for the wild 4-3 victory over Yadkin County neighbor Starmount Monday night in the Mountain Valley Conference opener.
“I’ve been in a lot of Starmount/Forbush games and this was a typical game. One team scores first for awhile and the other team comes back. And the last couple minutes are always a dog fight. And that’s the way it was tonight,” Forbush head coach Seth Davis explained.
The Falcons jumped out to a 2-0 lead midway through the first half with goals by Ryan Miller and Jacob Funk, as Forbush dominated possession early on.
Starmount captain Chandler Chappell cut the lead in half when he sailed a free kick over the keeper’s head in the upper 90 with seven minutes left in the half.
But five minutes later, Oscar Guadarrama settled a cross into the right side of the box and found the back of the net to extend Forbush’s lead out to 3-1.
Twenty minutes into the second half, the Falcons took control of the game when Rufino Rios scored on a breakaway goal to extend the lead to a seemingly comfortable 4-1.
Collin Benfield ignited Starmount’s late surge when he found the back of the net in a scramble in the box as the Rams jump-started a furious rally.
Starmount’s best chance to cut into the lead came on a Jonathan Catalan penalty shot with 5:45 remaining. But sophomore goalkeeper Ian Grooms dove right to stone the initial chance and the Forbush defense blocked five more shots in the box before the ball was finally cleared, preserving the two-goal edge.
“It was surprising. Ian, being just a sophomore, has come a long ways,” Davis said. “He’s still young and inexperienced. He battles a couple of things from game to game, but he stepped up there and big and made the save.”
The Rams bounced back when Juan Noveron chipped a long pass over Grooms two minutes later to cut the lead to 4-3.
From there, the Falcons held Starmount without another shot on goal over the final three minutes to knock off their rival in soccer’s rendition of the Unifi Bowl.
“As the first conference game to be able to get that first win and to be at the top of the conference really helps these guys,” Davis explained. “We wont see them again for another seven or eight games now, so we can sit back and relax and try to pick on some of the other teams in the conference and wait to get back around to them.”
Despite the loss, Starmount head coach Dale Draughn said he was pleased with how the Rams fought down the stretch.
“It is always hard to open the conference season with your county rival, but we have done it every year,” he explained. “I thought we dug ourselves a hole too deep. When you spot a team like Forbush a 4-1 lead things don’t look good for you. The outcome it now what we wanted but I was pleased with how we fought to the final seconds and had chances to tie the game.
“We have to fix some things, but I like how we righted the ship the last 16 minutes and started playing our style of soccer,” Draughn added. “We have to play two halves of soccer.”
The unbeaten Falcons (4-0-1) travel to West Wilkes Thursday night in a stretch of four-straight away games. The Rams (2-1-1) will look to rebound from their first loss when they host winless East Wilkes Wednesday night.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or firstname.lastname@example.org.