BOONVILLE - A late goal off the foot of Oscar Guadarrama gave Forbush another hard-fought, gritty win against Yadkin County rival Starmount.
“Lots of testosterone out there and a few heads that forgot what’s going on out on the field…but we live to tell about it,” Falcon head coach Seth Davis said.
Guadarrama’s goal lifted the Falcons to a 2-1 victory over the Rams Thursday night to sweep the season series from their neighbors in the final year the two are Mountain Valley Conference opponents. Forbush is set to join an all-2A conference with the likes of North Surry, Surry Central and West Stokes at the start of the 2013 athletic season.
In their last meeting as conference rivals, both teams traded blows early on as defenses and goalkeepers shined in the opening 40 minutes.
Starmount controlled possession in the first half, but neither team was able to find the back of the net. Goalies Daniel Stinson (Starmount) and Ian Grooms (Forbush) stood tall and turned away seven shots apiece in a methodical, scoreless opening half.
The Falcons changed all that in a hurry, drawing first blood just six minutes after halftime on a Rufino Rios goal.
Rios settled a long pass and dribbled into the box before putting it past Stinson in the right corner of the net at the 34:44 mark to give Forbush a 1-0 advantage.
Starmount finally found the equalizer 16 minutes later after fighting through the Falcon defense for over 60 minutes.
On the ensuing free kick following a Forbush yellow card, the Rams found the back of the net. Grooms went up for the ball on a kick from just outside of the 18-yard box, but it fell to waiting foot of Juan Noveron, who poked it into the wide open net.
The Falcons kept up the pressure, controlling possession for much of the second half. Just three minutes after Starmount tied things up, Forbush scored what appeared to be the go-ahead goal, but it was called out of bounds.
Guadarrama made sure his game-winning score a few minutes later wouldn’t be called off, dribbling past the Ram defense into the box and put it past Stinson in the lower right corner to give Forbush the 2-1 lead with 11 minutes left.
From there, things got chippy as four yellow cards were issued in the second half alone, as Starmount continued to desperately fire shots at Grooms. The Rams were unable to find a second equalizer, falling 2-1.
“It was a well played game by both teams, with each team going at each other and neither backing down,” Starmount head coach Dale Draughn explained. “We went away from our game plan we had in the second half and made two mistakes on defense, and they made us pay for those mistakes.
“I am pleased with how we played tonight, but it was like they turned off a switch at halftime and started to play with their own agendas,” he continued. “We went away from what worked on in the first half. If we had taken advantage of our opportunities on goal in the first half and a few in the second half, it could have been a different outcome.”
Davis said his team played down to a depleted Rams roster and let them hang around in the game.
“Obviously their best player Chandler Chappell was on the sideline, so they were depleted, and I felt like my team played down to that level,” he explained. “Knowing he was out, we didn’t step up and play hard, and they were able to hang in there. If you let a team build confidence like they did, it’s going to be a fight to the finish.”
Starmount played without Chappell, a senior captain and one its key players, who was out nursing an injury. Draughn said the Rams are “playing through the injuries.”
“We are playing through some injuries and have players returning from injuries. But if we can get back to 100 percent, we will be okay,” he said.
Davis said the Falcons are also battling through injuries and hopes to use games against North and West Wilkes this week to rest players to make a run at conference-leading Ashe County.
“Right now, we’re beat up a little bit,” he said. “Getting past Starmount here, we have North and West Wilkes coming up this week. It’s an opportunity for us to rest and get some other people some playing time and try to get some players back to make a stretch run at Ashe.”
Coming down to the final month of the season, Forbush and Starmount are in the hunt for two of the three guaranteed postseason berths from the Mountain Valley Conference.
With the win, the Falcons improved to 7-1 in the conference, trailing Ashe (7-0) by a half-game. But the Huskies hold the tie-breaker, knocking off Forbush 4-3 in September.
“Anytime you can come into this conference and you can be in the top two or three teams and make the playoffs, you feel good,” Davis said. “We’re in a good spot right now. We can’t be any lower than second unless we completely fall apart and the wheels fall off. We can still challenge Ashe for first if we don’t make any mistakes, and we almost gave one up here tonight.
“As long as we can hang in there, we’ll fight,” he added.
Starmount falls to 4-4 in MVAC action with the loss, a half-game ahead of Wilkes Central (3-4) for the final playoff slot.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or email@example.com.