Rams win third round, fall in fourth

By Kristian Russell - krussell@elkintribune.com
Jonathan Flores (12) scored the lone Starmount goal by scoring a penalty kick. - Kristian Russell | Yadkin Ripple
Kaleb Dickerson (4) defends the ball for the Rams on Saturday - Kristian Russell | Yadkin Ripple

Starmount hosted Highlands in the third round of the playoffs and took a 4-0 win. On Saturday, Starmount traveled to Bishop McGuinness for the fourth round of playoffs, and saw its season come to an end with a hard fought 2-1 loss.

Starmount 4 – Highlands 0

BOONVILLE — For only the third time in school history, the Starmount Rams punched their ticket to the fourth round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association playoffs. The Rams are the only Mountain Valley Athletic Conference team left in the playoffs, as they took a 4-0 win to advance to the next round.

In the opening minutes, Starmount wasted no time in making advancements on the Highlands’ goal. The Rams earned a corner kick in the sixth minute, but the ball went over the goal. Starmount didn’t let up its pressure and kept taking shot after shot. Highlands put its own spin on the ball in the ninth minute with its first shot on goal.

The Highlanders put another shot at goal less than 30 seconds later after beating two Starmount defenders. The ball was saved by Lucas Zamora, which gave the Rams a breakaway opportunity. The breakaway came up short as the Highlanders were able to step on the brakes in the back half of the field.

For the first 20 minutes, Starmount put pressure through the midfield with crisp passes that put the Highlanders on their heels. With 22 minutes left in the first half, Andres Ocampo beat a defender and fired the ball into the back of the net to give Starmount the lead. After the first goal was taken care of, Starmount started to settle down all around the field.

The Rams did everything right through the first half to add another goal, but the Highlanders’ back line was a brick wall that couldn’t be broken through. With a four-man back line in the way, the Rams had to find different ways to score a goal. If the Rams did end up breaking through the back line, finishing wasn’t on their side. Starmount had several shots on goal in the first 20 minutes but only one found the back of the net.

With 2:15 left in the first half Starmount saw its second goal on the horizon. During a corner kick, the Highlanders keeper came off of the line and the Rams tried to put the ball into the net. Somehow Highlands was able to keep the ball out of the net and keep the score 1-0 at halftime.

In the opening eight minutes of the second half, Starmount was able to come up with a penalty kick after being pulled down in the box. Jonathan Flores lined up to take the shot and put the ball into the net to give the Rams a 2-0 lead.

Starmount found its groove after the second goal, as Jayven Najera put his name on the sheet four minutes later. From 22 yards out, Najera put a rocket into the back of the net for a 3-0 lead. Jordan Anderson gave Starmount a 4-0 lead in the 30th minute, and the rest was history.

Bishop McGuinness 2 – Starmount 1

KERNERSVILLE — The Starmount Rams saw their 2017 playoff run come to a close on Saturday night with a 2-1 loss to Bishop McGuinness. Starmount put up a hard fight, but the Villains were able to knock in a late goal for the win.

Starmount went into Saturday’s game as the underdog, but the Rams didn’t let that deter them from making the game one to remember. Bishop controlled most of the momentum from the start with constant pressure on Starmount’s back line. The Rams defense came up big when it mattered most by clearing balls off of the back line, and creating the right amount of pressure for a turnover.

For the first 46 minutes, both teams were locked in a 0-0 battle. It wasn’t until the second half that the deadlock was broken by the Villains. With 34 minutes left in the second half, Bishop stopped the scoring drought to take a 1-0 lead over the Rams. Starmount didn’t let the goal deter it from putting pressure on the ball and fighting for the tying goal.

Four minutes after Bishop’s goal, Starmount earned a penalty kick after being pulled down from behind in the box. Jonathan Flores lined up his shot, faked out the Bishop goalie, and leveled the game 1-1.

It was the tying goal that sent the game into overdrive as both teams started to fight for another goal. As temperatures were dropping off the field, things started to get heated on the field.

With 15 minutes left in the game, Bishop found the go-ahead goal to take a 2-1 lead. The Rams put everything they had into the final 15 minutes, but things didn’t fall their way. As the final whistle blew, Bishop took a 2-1 win to move on to Regionals.

Starmount ended its season with an undefeated MVAC record of 19-0, which gave it the conference championship. After the fourth-round loss, the Rams ended their 2017 season with an overall record of 20-2-2.

Jonathan Flores (12) scored the lone Starmount goal by scoring a penalty kick.
https://www.yadkinripple.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/web1_DSC_0326-copy.jpgJonathan Flores (12) scored the lone Starmount goal by scoring a penalty kick. Kristian Russell | Yadkin Ripple

Kaleb Dickerson (4) defends the ball for the Rams on Saturday
https://www.yadkinripple.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/web1_DSC_0307-copy.jpgKaleb Dickerson (4) defends the ball for the Rams on Saturday Kristian Russell | Yadkin Ripple
Starmount soccer ends season with tough loss to Bishop

By Kristian Russell