MOUNT AIRY — The Forbush Falcons men’s soccer team are proving their dominance in the Western Piedmont Athletic Conference with a record of 7-0, while the Falcons are ranked eighth in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 2A standings with an overall record of 17-1. Last week the Falcons took on the North Surry Greyhounds in an exciting game that saw Forbush come away with a 1-0 win.
North Surry has developed into a much better team as the season has progressed, notably on the defensive front. The Greyhounds have held opponents to fewer than three goals on all but three occasions since the beginning of September. Defensive anchor Grant Whittington had his hands full containing an explosive Forbush squad looking to bounce back from their sole loss this season against 4A Ronald Reagan High School.
The Forbush offense immediately took the ball into North Surry territory. Greyhound keeper Carson Draughn did well to keep a clean slate, considering the sheer amount of shots taken by the Falcons. It wouldn’t be until the eighth minute that North Surry was able to mount a threatening counterattack. Joseph Rangel took the ball up the right sideline before crossing it to Javier Vera. Vera had a great look, but couldn’t put the ball on frame.
Jesus Bautista roamed the midfield to keep the ball in Falcon territory, setting up shots for Jonathan Cardoso and Vincent Hernandez. The Hounds were forced to take longer shots due to the rock-solid Forbush defense. Both teams showed excellent defensive play and made offensive runs that stemmed from their defense.
Forbush had the advantage in terms of midfield play and set-pieces. With a deadly combination of speed and ball control, the Falcons caught the home team off-guard often, forcing the Greyhounds to foul. Draughn had no time to rest due to multiple free kicks by Forbush in North Surry’s third of the field. However, the scoreboard still read 0-0.
North Surry tested the Falcons’ defense with through balls and eventually managed to get through. Hernandez sent a laser beam on the ground to Vera, but the Forbush keeper snagged the ball before Vera could take the shot. This would be the last North Surry shot for a while as Forbush took control of the match.
The Falcons pressed their entire team save the keeper into the Hounds’ side of the field. The ball lingered dangerously close to the Greyhound goal and eventually found its way past Draughn to put Forbush up 1-0. The Falcons hammered shot after shot at Draughn to end the half up a goal.
Though the first half shot count leaned heavily in the favor of Forbush by a 12-4 margin, the second half saw a more balanced offensive distribution. This was due to the ball staying in the middle third for much of the half, with neither defense folding against the other. The game’s physicality increased as well, with North Surry called for four fouls in the first six minutes of the second half. Junior Lopez received a yellow card and it only fired up the Greyhounds.
The Forbush back line pressed up to midfield and kept the pressure on North Surry. Around minute 55, there was a shift in momentum. The Hounds seemed to calm down and focus more on the game than their opponent and the results showed. Rangel had a shot on goal that seemed to rejuvenate the Greyhounds. North played with intensity, hustling to 50-50 balls and making runs up both sidelines. The problem of the Falcons’ back wall didn’t seem to bother North Surry’s strikers, because the Hounds put shots on goal from outside the 18.
It was Forbush’s turn to get caught off-guard on counterattacks with the foul count balancing out as Falcon midfielders attempted to suppress the attacking Hounds. North Surry earned its first corner kick of the match and nearly tied the match on a header from Rangel. The Forbush keeper managed to intercept the ball before it soared into the back of the net, keeping the Falcons ahead.
Time became a factor for North Surry, so when presented with a free kick 25 yards out, coach Eric Jessup brought his entire team, sans keeper, deep into the Falcon territory. The Greyhounds continued to fight in the closing minutes but were unable to force overtime, resulting in a 1-0 victory for Forbush.
Forbush, now 7-0 in the Western Piedmont Athletic Conference, extend its lead over the rest of the conference. Surry Central, North Surry, Walkertown, and Atkins are all in contention for second place in the conference with West Stokes not far behind.
Reach Cory Smith on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith