For the first 40 minutes, the only thing separating Elkin and East Wilkes was a Deyonna Gonzales goal off a corner kick.
Then, leading only 1-0 at half, the Elks broke through the East Wilkes defense twice in the first 17 minutes of the second half to secure a 3-0 1A West second-round win over the Cardinals.
Elkin now awaits the winner of the Pine Lake Prep-Highlands game being played Saturday night.
Shots on goal were 8-4 in favor of Elkin. Overall shots were 16-5 Elkin. Elkin held a 7-0 advantage in corner kicks. East Wilkes had 11 fouls; Elkin five.
At half, shots on goal were even at two apiece.
“We played survival in the first 40 minutes,” Elkin Coach Heath Foster said. “They (East Wilkes) came out 100 miles-per-hour. I told them ‘hats off’.’ They’re a good team.”
Gonzales scored with 29:09 remaining in the first half when Karla Fuentes put a corner kick on her foot about five yards out. East Wilkes goalkeeper Hannah Jolly made the initial stop, but the short rebound came right back to Gonzales. After a quick th-thump, the ball found the back of the net.
“The first half we were right there,” East Wilkes Coach Matt Campbell said. “We had a couple of saves. They had a well-executed set piece off a corner.”
The Elks came out strong in the second half with Jolly holding onto a point-blank shot by Gonzales just 30 seconds in. Less than two minutes later, Jolly made another save on Gonzales - this time a diving save to her left at the near post.
Elkin finally went up 2-0 when Fuentes corralled a loose ball about 20 yards out and put it past Jolly inside the left post. The played started with a throw-in by Makayla Dimmette near the corner.
Dimmette also factored in the third Elkin goal. Dimmette played a through ball with touch to Gonzales. Gonzales found the ball just inside the 18 and just before Jolly could get her hands on it. The ball went in inside the right post.
“Their coach was fired up at halftime,” Campbell said of Foster. I told my team ‘you’re going to get their best shot the first 10 minutes (of the second half)’.
“They set the tempo. Got to compliment them.”
Dimmette was nearly no factor at all. The junior injured her ankle just four minutes into the game and did not return until the second half. “As soon as she went down, we were on our heels,” Foster said, who added Dimmette was held out until it was determined whether she could cut and turn.
“I didn’t think she was going to go back in,” Foster said. “I left it up to her.”
Jolly was strong in net for the Cardinals, controlling the box and making several tough saves. “She made a huge difference,” Foster said. “Good hands. She made some huge saves.”
In addition to Jolly, the East Wilkes back line made stops as well. “Our defense saved us a lot,” Campbell said.
Elkin is 14-4-3. East Wilkes completed its season 8-12-1.
The field was in remarkable shape considering the rain Thursday. There was a lot of sand - particularly at midfield - but there was little slipping and sliding by either team.
If Pine Lake Prep defeats Highlands, Elkin would be at home for a third-round game. Otherwise, the Elks will travel to Highlands.
Jim Fuller may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @elkinareasports.