As the saying goes, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” Starmount soccer might be talented, but Monday night Elkin was gritty and made them pay.
Down 1-0 at halftime, the Buckin’ Elks had some surprising young players come up with big goals, and held on in the final minute for a 4-3 win. Sophomore Said Islas scored three while freshman Korbin Powell scored the go-ahead goal.
“They used me a lot, we saw some of the weak spots with Starmount. We used them, and I got around them,” Islas said.
Starmount senior Erick Teodoro put them on the board when a penalty kick was awarded after an Elkin player pushed a Starmount player down in the box. Early in the second half, Islas responded with two goals in under two minutes to drastically shift the momentum. Starmount’s Salomon Maya knotted the score back up with 26 minutes left in the half. That’s when a great effort from a freshman led to a key moment in the game with only 15 minutes remaining.
“The ball’s 30 yards away from [Korbin Powell] but he trailed it from midfield all the way backside hauling rear and got a trash goal, but it got the kids jacked up, and that’s what we needed,” Elkin Head Coach Heath Foster said.
In the closing minutes, Islas was awarded a penalty kick and scored to make it 4-2 with under two minutes remaining. However, Kaleb Dickerson responded under 30 seconds later. Overall, the final 15 minutes felt like an eternity as Starmount kept getting chance after chance, but whether it was a diving or reaching save, Elkin senior Carlos Trejo was there to do it. Starmount’s Victor Maya had a penalty kick that was saved by Trejo, but under a minute later, Maya was the one to make it a 2-2 tie. Trejo said that when the equalizer happened, the team had to focus in.
“It’s always tough when you get scored on right after you make a counter, and that just sets things completely back to zero,” Trejo said. “And that’s when not much of your physical ability comes into play, but your mental ability.”
Mentally, Starmount (12-5, 8-3 MVAC) has shown signs of complacency throughout the season. In blowout wins like they’ve had against some teams this season, they’ve also let up a goal on a defensive breakdown. In a 9-1 win, that might not seem like much, but Head Coach Edgar Zamora warned the team a few times this season that there’s no excuse for it, and it might come back to bite them. It did Monday night, for sure.
“Elkin had grit and hard work, and you can’t beat that if you come out cocky and complacent,” Zamora said. “I hope that they realize the winning team that they have, and the winner that they have inside of them.”
Starmount has three games remaining, with Elkin (8-10, 7-4 MVAC) sitting one game behind Starmount in conference play, but with an extra game left to play. Starmount only controls its own destiny if it can win out. They’ve outscored Alleghany and East Wilkes 17-0 this season and play both of those games at home. However, they also have to travel to Wilkes Central, a team that found the slightest of edges in a 2-0 win over the Rams.
Elkin also gets a rematch against East Wilkes and Wilkes Central. They travel to Wilkes Central Wednesday, a team they played tight to, losing in the closing seconds 2-1, and then host East Wilkes next Monday, a team they beat 6-2 earlier in the year. Then, they play a non-conference game against West Stokes next Tuesday, before their final match against North Wilkes.
Ryan DeCosta can be reached at 336-258-4052 or via Twitter @rsdecosta.