Pioneers take early lead in 2-1 victory
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Watauga’s boys’ soccer team proved it’s not a good idea to give the Pioneers an opportunity to score goals. Fred T. Foard gave the Pioneers two chances and paid for them both.
Watauga scored on a penalty kick and a direct kick in its 2-1 victory over the Tigers at Jack Groce Stadium Wednesday night. Watauga, which stayed in first place in the Northwestern Conference, can rest until Monday night when the Pioneers play at powerful Hickory.
Watauga (12-1-3, 5-0-2 NWC) scored its first goal on a Logan Raichle penalty kick with 24:56 left in the first half. Raichle was fouled inside the 18-yard box and was awarded a free kick 13 yards away from the goal.
Raichle kept his shot close to the ground when he put it past the Foard goalkeeper.
Another foul led to another Watauga goal. Alex Parsons hit a laser on a direct kick that just went over the outstretched arms of the Foard keeper, and just under the crossbar of the goal.
“We were outplaying them in the first half,” Pioneers coach Woody McKay said. “I don’t feel that 2-1 is an unfair score.
Parsons scored his goal gave the Pioneers a 2-0 lead with 1:50 left in the first half.
Watauga gave up two goals in a 2-2 tie to St. Stephens on Monday, but had not given up more than one goal since a 2-1 loss to A.C. Reynolds on Aug. 27. The Pioneers made sure that they would not give up two goals Wednesday night, but Foard picked up the pace offensively in the second half.
“They came out with a lot of energy in the second half,” McKay said. “They had more players in the middle than we did. We adjusted and did what we had to in order to keep the lead.”
Foard finally broke through for a goal with 10:04 left in the game to chop Watauga’s lead to 2-1. The Tigers (11-4-1, 2-3-1) put a few scares into the Watauga defense, including one where Pioneers keeper Jake Chasteen out jumped a Foard offensive player trying to head in a goal with just 45 seconds left in the match.
“One of the big differences was our goalkeeping,” McKay said. “Jake Chasteen snatched that ball right out. As great as Alex’s goal kick was, I’m not sure Jake would have let it in. That could be a difference right there.”
Watauga, after playing two games in three days, turns its attention to Hickory. The Tornadoes went into Wednesday with a 13-1 overall record, 4-1 in the NWC.
That loss was a 3-1 setback to Watauga at Jack Groce Stadium on Sept. 10. Watauga claimed a 2-1 lead, but Hickory moved its goalkeeper to the offensive side of the field in the final minute of the game looking to tie the match.
Watauga gained control of the ball, and Parsons beat the Tornadoes back to the Hickory goal, where Parsons scored the final goal of the game.
Hickory takes on Foard Thursday in a game that was postponed from Monday because of rain. The Tornadoes have won their last two games over NWC rivals St. Stephens and Hibriten by 2-1 scores.
In two NWC games over Alexander Central and South Caldwell, the Tornadoes outscored the two 4-A schools by a combined 15-0 score.