Elkin opens conference with loss to Starmount

By Kristian Russell - krussell@elkintribune.com
Kaleb Dickerson (4) battles for the ball against Patrick Soos (2). - Kristian Russell | The Tribune
Jesus Benitez takes a shot for the Rams on Monday night. - Kristian Russell | The Tribune

The Elkin Buckin’ Elks and the Starmount Rams met for the first time this season on the soccer field. Both teams were playing in their first Mountain Valley Athletic Conference games of the season, and both teams were looking for a win.

Starmount was coming off of a one-game win, while Elkin was holding on to a two-game losing streak. On Monday night, the orange and blue were able to put four goals in the net and hold Elkin to just one goal. When the 80 minutes were up, the Rams had taken a 4-1 conference win over the Buckin’ Elks.

“We are better than our record shows and I think we proved to ourselves tonight that we are a good team,” said Elkin head coach Joe McCulloch. “Starmount is a good team. They are fast. They are faster than we are, obviously.”

At halftime, Elkin was behind the Rams by just one goal as the score was 2-1.

Elkin’s goal came from Edwing Hernandez, who scored off the assist from Patrick Soos. Thomas McComb, Elkin’s keeper, had several saves for the Buckin’ Elks in the first half. He also had saves in the second half for the home team.

“Our keeper played a good game for us tonight,” said McCulloch. “He has had a tough past couple of games, but I think he showed some maturity tonight. He is a freshman, so he showed maturity. Hopefully with this game it will give him some confidence moving forward.”

In the second half, Starmount put two goals in the back of the net. Both goals were scored by Jonathan Flores. The first goal was scored off a header, and the second goal was scored off of a penalty kick.

Elkin’s defense was able to stop several breakaways by the Rams. Starmount came out crashing the goal in the final two minutes of the game, but the Elks were able to stand tall and block every shot. Elkin was able to stop what would have been the fifth Starmount goal of the night, but McComb was able to dive to his left to save the shot.

“We didn’t have many opportunities to get out of our defense end,” said McCulloch. “I thought we played tight defensively right there at the end and I think we were stabbing too much. I thought for two-thirds of the game we played good pressure defense, but we did not dive in and we made them go side to side. They pull the trigger pretty fast, and if you give them a window, they are going to take it. I thought we stayed on them pretty tight so they didn’t have many windows to shoot, which I thought was an improvement for us.”

Elkin moves to 1-6 overall and 0-1 in the MVAC. It will travel to Ashe County on Wednesday night for a conference game.

“We are making progress,” said McCulloch. “We talked about playing pressure defense and not stabbing, which we did better at tonight. They are getting better.”

Kaleb Dickerson (4) battles for the ball against Patrick Soos (2).
https://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_DSC_0081.jpgKaleb Dickerson (4) battles for the ball against Patrick Soos (2). Kristian Russell | The Tribune

Jesus Benitez takes a shot for the Rams on Monday night.
https://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_DSC_0098.jpgJesus Benitez takes a shot for the Rams on Monday night.Kristian Russell | The Tribune

By Kristian Russell

krussell@elkintribune.com