RONDA — The East Wilkes Cardinals men’s soccer team has struggled to find a win this season. Last week, the Cardinals hosted Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy. East Wilkes fell 8-1 to the visiting team, but the Cardinals showed improvement as they knocked in their first goal of the season.
“Our younger kids played hard,” said Millaway. “They are still afraid of contact, but I think our young guys stepped up for us. I think we played better on defense, especially in the second half. We came out flat in the first half, but we played better in the second. We are still struggling, we are still moving kids around to see where they are going to go. I think they are handling that well. Overall I think our young guys stepped up and we finally took shots.”
TJCA put in its opening goal at the six-minute mark, and never looked back. The visiting team knocked in its second goal two minutes later for a 2-0 lead with 32:45 left in the opening half. For the next 10 minutes, East Wilkes was able to keep the ball from entering its net as they controlled passes and played a strong defensive line. At the 20-minute mark, TJCA knocked in its third goal of the half.
The Cardinals were having trouble penetrating the back line of TJCA, as they had the ball stolen before they could cross midfield. East Wilkes kept trying to win the 50/50 balls, but the opposing team had the upper hand. TJCA put in its fourth goal with 17 minutes left in the first half, then its fifth goal only three minutes later. With less than three minutes remaining in the half, TJCA knocked in its sixth goal of the night.
Just as the clock was winding down towards halftime, East Wilkes was able to take the ball across midfield. Logan Lytton passed the ball up the field and found Alex Redding. Redding set himself up at the top of the 18 and fired his shot towards the goal. The ball sailed towards the right goal post and hit the post before crossing the front of the net. The ball had enough curve on it that it went into the net and the Cardinals recorded their first goal of the season.
“It’s nice to finally get on the board,” said East Wilkes head coach Andrew Millaway. “We have been preaching to these kids that we have to shoot the ball and I think they have just been scared to shoot it. You know we lost all of our scoring from last year and I think that has been a big part of it. No one had been willing to step up and play. We finally got Alex Redding back tonight and he did what we asked him to do — get open and take a shot. Once we had that one on the board, we took some more opportunities. We had five or six shots so I think that made a difference. Hopefully that can start a waterfall trend going into next week.”
The second half saw TJCA knock in two additional goals before the game was over. After 90 minutes of play, TJCA took an 8-1 win over East Wilkes.
East Wilkes moves to 0-4 overall and will play at Bunker Hill on Wednesday night. The next home game for East Wilkes will be Aug. 30 against Walkertown.