CARY - Preparing for their Mountain Valley Conference campaign, the Rams hit the field in the annual Coaches Kickoff Classic held at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary Saturday.
Playing on a larger, collegiate-sized field, Starmount was knocked off by Wallace-Rose Hill, 5-0.
“I wanted to use this as a learning experience for the boys and expose them to what it will be like to play on a field that measured 120x75 with Bermuda grass cut to 5/8”,” head coach Dale Draughn said. “We had trouble adjusting to the length and width of the field in the first half and the Bulldogs took advantage of it.
“We tried to make adjustments in the first half and we did defensively,” he continued. “We switched our formation to a 4-4-2 and it worked for us.”
The Bulldogs took advantage of the wide field in the tune of four first-half goals, grabbing a comfortable lead at the break. While being held off the scoreboard in the game, Draughn said the Rams rebounded in the second half.
“We did a much better job in the second half playing soccer. We adjusted to the field size and even though we only had one shot on goal in the second half we held our own,” he explained.
“I think this was a good learning curve for the boys. This is the type of opponent we will see as we get into the later rounds of the state playoffs. They are senior- and junior-laden team who are well coached and worked well together. We are a young team with only three seniors now and the rest underclassmen who are having to step up and play at a higher level than they have been. But we will be OK,” Draughn added.
Starmount returned to the pitch Monday night in its MVAC opener against North Wilkes, notching its first victory of the season, topping the Vikings 3-2.
The Rams fell behind early in the game when Ethan Shepherd slide one past Evan Stinson for an early 1-0 advantage.
Starmount responded five minutes later when Erick Teodoro scored his first varsity goal off the assist by Salomon Maya before Nathan Walker converted a penalty kick to give the Rams a 2-1 lead midway through the half.
The Vikings continued to fight and tied the game with 12:58 remaining when Juan Benitez found the back of the net, sending the game knotted at 2-all into the intermission.
Starmount came out firing in the second half looking for the game-winning goal, out-shooting the Vikes 8-3 in the second stanza.
The Rams finally broke through when Collin Benfield fed Juan Mora for the game-winning score, securing Starmount’s first victory of the year, 3-2.
“This was a much-needed win for us and the right way to start off the conference,” Draughn said. “We had played a tough non-conference schedule and it paid off tonight.
“One thing that I like about this team is their grit and they never give up. Sometimes we work too hard and try to make the perfect pass instead of the simple pass that would work better. We still have things to work on and we are not there yet, but we are making strides,” he added.
Starmount (1-4-1, 1-0) returns to the field Wednesday on the road against West Wilkes in Millers Creek.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or firstname.lastname@example.org.