ELKIN - The 15th-ranked Buckin’ Elks completed their non-conference slate with an even 2-2 record.
Battling East Surry and Mount Airy in two home/away series, Elkin split against the Cards and the Granite Bears, winning both matchups at Grissom Stadium.
“It’s early. There are some things we need to work on, but you can expect that early in the season. If we can continue to work as a team we’ll be good,” head coach Joe McCulloch explained. “These have been really competitive games with East Surry and Mount Airy.
“I think we’re in a good spot right now. If we can keep building from the back at keeper and up the middle, we’ve got the players there, we just have to start playing more as a team and keep working hard,” he continued.
After dropping a 4-3 decision to East in the season-opener, the Elks bounced back and blanked Mount Airy and the Cardinals 2-0 in back-to-back home games.
Against East Surry, Daniel Cortez got Elkin off to a fast start, finding the back of the net 13 minutes into the game on a shot in the box.
Goalkeeper Jesus Rivera was busy in the opening half, stopping multiple Cardinal chances.
With nine minutes remaining in the half, inclement weather forced a 30-minute lightning delay. Just nine seconds after play resumed, Dante Sanchez caught East on their heels and scored on a breakaway goal to put Elkin up 2-0.
Holding onto the two-goal advantage, the Elks sat back and played solid defense in the second half.
“We just held on. Coach [Heath] Foster said that the last 30 minutes we were on our heels just trying to get the ball out and they just kept bringing it. I feel good about the shutout and the victory,” McCulloch said.
Rivera turned away five East Surry shots, including two diving saves, as Elkin held on for the 2-0 victory.
“Jesus made some great stops, including those two goal-preventing saves. He played really well,” he added.
In their final non-conference game, the Elks lost a hard-fought 3-1 game to Mount Airy Tuesday afternoon.
Elkin returns to the field next Monday to open their Mountain Valley Conference slate against rival East Wilkes in Ronda.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or firstname.lastname@example.org.