PILOT MOUNTAIN — Four second-half goals helped East Surry defeat West Wilkes in a Foothills 2A Conference match on Wednesday.
The match served as East Surry’s Senior Night, so the fact that all four goals were scored by Cardinal seniors was apropos. Nick Lowery had one goal against the Blackhawks, and Jacob Lowe scored three goals for his second hat trick of the year.
Lowery and Lowe were two of the seven seniors recognized at halftime. The remaining seniors include: Jesus Estrada, Alfonso Bautista, Trey Armstrong, Isaiah Gillespie and Kevin Ramirez.
Armstrong and Gillespie are first-year members of the soccer team, Estrada is in his second season and Lowe, Lowery, Bautista and Ramirez have been with the program for at least three years,
“This has been a really great group of kids to work with,” said East Surry coach Andy Jessup. “They’ve been with the team for different lengths of time, but the guys have really meshed together and are playing well.”
Wednesday’s win puts East Surry at 5-5 overall and 3-2 in FH2A competition. The Cardinals are tied with Wilkes Central for third in the conference, with Surry Central and Forbush tied for first at 4-0.
Finishing was the big difference between the first and second halves. Jessup said East Surry had similar opportunities in both halves, but the team was just able to capitalize better in the second.
East Surry had 10 shots in the first half to West Wilkes’ three. The Cardinal defense managed to keep shots from coming inside the 18-yard box, which made things easier for keeper Caden Lasley. All three Blackhawk shots were saved by Lasley.
“Caden’s really come into his own this season,” Jessup said of the sophomore keeper. “He’s pretty aggressive at keeper; once he decides he wants the ball he goes out there and gets it.”
The Cardinals made their way into Blackhawk territory shortly after the opening whistle. Lowery attempted a corner kick in just the second minute, but West Wilkes prevented a shot from taking place.
Two minutes later, Estrada sent a cross to Armstrong from the corner for a header. Armstrong soared above the Blackhawk defenders to make contact, but the shot sailed over the crossbar. Lowe had a header of his own in the eighth minute off a throw-in from Lupe Chavez that also went north of the frame.
It took a few shots for the Cardinals to find the frame, but Lowe, Lowery and Estrada each forced the opposing keeper to make saves in the half. However, the match was still scoreless after 40 minutes.
Things were different in the second half though, as East scored four goals before giving up one in the final minutes of the match.
“We had a ton of chances during the game, we just couldn’t finish in the first half,” Jessup said. “Kevin and Jacob did have a lot of good runs passing up the left side in the first, they just unfortunately couldn’t end with a goal. The kids played well though.”
Jessup continued: “We’ve still got some things we need to work on. We’re still trying some different things with our lineup and working on some stuff, but I like our progress.”
East Surry has played every FH2A team at least once with the exception of Surry Central (9-1-1), who East hosts on Oct. 4. After that, the Cardinals enter the final stretch of the regular season with seven rematches against conference opponents.