ELKIN — A late 11-minute scoring burst proved to be the difference in the second soccer Battle of the Bridge showdown Monday night at Grissom Stadium.
With the score knotted at 1-1 hitting the midway point of the second half, the Buckin’ Elks ripped off three goals in an 11-minute span to seize control of the game.
Jesus Rivera and the Elkin defense then kept the Rams off the scoreboard to seal the convincing 4-1 victory, giving the Elks a series sweep over their bitter rivals from across the bridge.
“We had a slow first half,” Elkin Head Coach Heath Foster explained. “We have a tendency to score and then let someone score again. I stood there and screamed the whole first half, ‘don’t let them counter!’ And lo and behold, they got a goal.
“We had two set-play goals in the second half, which we can never complete a set-play, whether it be a throw or corner, so we were doing some stuff there that we needed to do,” he explained. “We played much better defensively and they only got one quality scoring opportunity in the second half. I told them they need to learn to get that killer instinct and bury somebody once they get ahead.”
The Elks opened the game with a quick goal just four minutes into the contest when Drew Shinkle volleyed a cross into the upper 90 for an early 1-0 advantage.
But Starmount answered 15 minutes later on a set piece when Nathan Walker sent a free kick into the box. Bryan Jimenez raised over a defender and headed the ball past Rivera for the equalizer.
The game remained tied until the 59th minute when captain Daniel Cortes kicked off the Elks’ scoring out-burst. The senior bent a corner kick past Evan Stinson for the go-ahead goal with 21:30 remaining.
Shinkle then tallied his second goal of the night two minutes later, throwing the ball in from the right sideline to push the lead out to 3-1.
Carlos Trejo tacked on another insurance goal nine minutes later for the finishing touches on the 4-1 triumph.
“People just started shooting,” Foster said about the scoring burst. “We try to take 10 dribbles then shoot instead of just pulling the trigger. When we make one- or two-touch passes and pull the trigger, good things happen. It’s just them doing the basic stuff.”
Starmount Head Coach Dale Draughn said his team “lost their heads” after Elkin pulled ahead and couldn’t recover.
“We lost our heads after the second goal and kind of went away from our game plan,” he explained. “We tried to get a goal back and we had some going opportunities, but we could not find the back of the net.”
Elkin improved to 7-8-2 on the year with the win, while tightening its grip on the 1A race at 6-3-1.
“We need these 1A wins. If we play like we did in the second half tonight, we’ll be able to compete,” Foster said. “We played a good, physical second half. Our problem is that we can’t put 80 minutes of that soccer together.”
Meanwhile, Starmount fell to 3-9-3 (3-5-2) with the loss.
“I am disappointed with the loss, but we have to put it behind us and turn around quickly tomorrow and focus on West Wilkes,” Draughn said.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or firstname.lastname@example.org.