Cortes poweres Elks to Battle of the Bridge victory
by Matthew Gorry Sports Writer
BOONVILLE - The Buckin’ Elks came out on top of a hard-fought, physical Battle of the Bridge showdown with bitter rival Starmount Thursday night.
Elkin took advantage of two penalty kicks en route to a big 4-1 victory on the road in hostile territory.
“We really had opportunities in the first half where we should have scored,” Elkin head coach Heath Foster explained. “I told them at halftime that I was looking for a 3-1, 4-1 win and that they needed to find that killer instinct. It took them awhile, but we got it. It felt good to win here. It’s fun to hear them all fired up and beating them.
“Overall, it was a good win. We needed it.”
Starmount started the rivalry game strong, firing shots at the goal in the opening minutes, including three corners in the first nine minutes, but came up empty.
Elkin made the most out of its opportunity.
Daniel Cortes lobbed a long ball into the box where Aldair Garcia fired a shot home past Hunter Johnson in goal to give the Elks a 1-0 advantage with 15:26 left to play.
The lead didn’t last long as the Rams were awarded a penalty kick for a handball in the box. Captain Nathan Walker converted to bring Starmount even at 1-1.
The Elks kept up the pressure on the goal in the closing minutes, catching a break with 31 ticks left on the clock.
Cortes was brought down in the box on a close play, giving Elkin a PK attempt. The senior fired a shot home to give the Elks a 2-1 advantage on the road.
Elkin never let up in the second half, peppering the goal with shots.
Cortes manufactured the Elks’ third goal of the game when he lifted a perfectly-placed ball into the box where Jose Rojas dove and headed the ball past Johnson for an impressive score.
“That was nice,” Foster explained. “We’ve been working on putting balls over the top like that and Jose timed it right and Daniel played it perfectly.”
Cortes continued his strong play, blasting home another penalty kick in the closing minutes of the game to seal the 4-1 victory.
“I don’t like getting PK goals, but I’ll take them. It’s kind of a sour way to win,” Foster said. “I had a rivalry with Starmount and East Wilkes - I loved beating them. Those are the people that you have to beat.”
Starmount head coach Dale Draughn said the team will be looking to “move on” from the lose and regroup for the rest of their conference schedule.
“We have to move on from this and continue to work hard and play harder. We are going to right the ship and turn this season around,” he said.
Elkin improved to 4-1 in conference play with the victory with three of those wins coming over 1A squads.
“We’re undefeated in 1A and in the grand scheme of things, that’s what matters. We have the talent to 1A for sure, but it’s up to these guys on the field,” Foster added.
Starmount falls to 1-2-1 in league play.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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