RONDA — The East Wilkes and Elkin men’s soccer teams struggled at the beginning of the season, but both teams have been steadily improving along the way. On Thursday afternoon under humid conditions, the Cardinals hosted Elkin in a Mountain Valley Athletic Conference battle. Both teams were looking for a vital win, and it was the home team who was able to come out on top to take the 2-1 win.
Things started off in Elkin’s favor early, as the visiting team was awarded a penalty kick just four minutes into the half. Korbin Powell stepped up to take the kick, and his shot was saved by Jorge Lopez as he hit the ball down to the ground. Powell followed his shot and tried to tap the ball into the net, but Lopez was able to smother the shot to keep the score 0-0.
Elkin was able to keep up its momentum from the penalty kick, as Carlos Espinoza made a break away in the 12th minute. Just as he was about to take a shot, Lopez came out of his net and tackled the ball away. As the clock ticked on, Elkin kept crashing the goal, but the Buckin’ Elks couldn’t finish their shots. Elkin had five shots on goal in the first 15 minutes, but none of them made it into the net.
For the first several minutes of the first half, the Cardinals were struggling to make it past midfield. When the clock hit the 30-minute mark, the tide began to shift towards the home team. With seven minutes left in the half, East Wilkes had a breakaway that ended with a goal.
Abram Sparks crossed the ball in front of the goal and Dylan Ward was able to get a touch on it. Ward hit the ball just right to push it past Elkin’s keeper and into the net for a 1-0 East Wilkes lead. The goal gave East Wilkes a 1-0 lead at halftime.
In the second half, Elkin tied the game as Espinoza beat two defenders then hit the ball hard for the goal. With 30 minutes left to play, the score was tied 1-1 and both teams started looking for the go-ahead goal.
It was East Wilkes who found the coveted goal in the 73rd minute of action. Sparks took a free kick for East Wilkes and it glanced off of the head of an Elkin defender and fell into the net. It was an own goal for Elkin that gave the Cardinals the 2-1 lead.
Elkin tried to battle back to tie the game, but time was not on the Buckin’ Elks’ side. As the clock hit the 80th minute, East Wilkes took a 2-1 win over Elkin.
On Monday night, East Wilkes hosted West Wilkes and came away with a 5-3 win. The Cardinals goals were scored by Miguel Mendoza (2), Trinidad-Ventura (1), Sparks (1) and Ward (1). With the wins, East Wilkes sits at 5-4 in the MVAC and 5-13 overall.
Elkin hosted Ashe County on Monday and fell to the Huskies 9-0. With the loss, Elkin is now 2-7 in the MVAC and 3-12 overall.