BOONVILLE — Starmount has had no shortage of drama in the first two rounds of the 1A Men’s Soccer Tournament, and in the closing minute of overtime on Saturday against Pine Lake Prep, the Rams relied on their leading scorer to deliver the final blow.
Junior Jeyson Pineda broke free in the box and struck it hard on goal. While the keeper got a piece of it, it found a way to the back of the net to put the Rams up with just 40 seconds remaining in overtime. The Rams would hold on for a 4-3 win to advance to the third round.
Pineda broke the school record for goals scored in a single season Thursday night with a hat trick in a 6-1 win over Atkins. That performance brought his goal total to 38. Pineda added two more Saturday, both coming in overtime.
“It was just about not giving up. Their defense was very organized, good technique, and it took me a while to break through,” Pineda said.
Starmount led 2-0 at the half thanks to goals by Victor Maya and Jordan Anderson, but after Pine Lake Prep’s first possession in the second half resulted in a goal, momentum started to get on the Pride’s side. They’d then score with just over 12 minutes remaining in regulation to knot things up 2-2. In the first overtime, Pineda was determined to score as he found space and kicked a hard shot, then got the rebound and knocked it in to make it 3-2. However, since the golden goal rule isn’t in effect for the NCHSAA, it gave Pine Lake Prep a chance to come back, and they did just that.
“It’s not easy to watch a game like this,” Starmount Head Coach Edgar Zamora said. “But everything the opponent does, we have to react to it.”
As far as adjustments go, the Rams made the right ones late, but perhaps their biggest adjustment happened a few days before the playoffs started. Salomon Maya leads the team in assists, and has been out both playoff games with an ankle injury. Maya needs two assists to break the single season record, but more importantly, the Rams at times looked like they absolutely needed him on the field.
“We’re playing without one of our most important men, and that isn’t just one adjustment,” Zamora said. “We hope to have everyone fully fit so that we’re transcending.”
“Go as hard as we did today, and good things will come,” senior co-captain Vicente Adame said. “Hard work pays off, just be ready. We can never be satisfied with what we have.”
As the higher seed no matter what, the Rams will host the winner of Monday’s match between Bishop McGuinness and North Moore on Wednesday night.
Ryan DeCosta can be reached at 336-258-4052 or via Twitter @rsdecosta.