East Wilkes soccer is going to remember what it was able to do Monday night, because it’s something that no team before has ever done.
East Wilkes defeated Elkin 2-1 for its first win against Elkin in school history. Behind a strong 15-minute stretch, sophomores Jonathan Lopez and Josiah Sparks drilled shots at net that went in. The team was strong for most of the 80 minutes, but especially strong in the first half.
Lopez got the ball on the right side seven minutes in and beat a defender and slammed it home to put the Cardinals (6-11, 6-7 MVAC) up 1-0. Ten minutes later, an Elkin (8-12, 7-6 MVAC) defender failed to clear it out of the box, and Sparks was there to kick it in. Sparks’ goal would be the deciding one, as Elkin nearly drew it even late.
“In practice Saturday, coach told me that he doesn’t care how I score… and he said ‘use your left foot some, too,’” Sparks said. “I was thinking and the ball bounced right there and I kicked it with my left foot and it went in.”
“I feel like this is really good to go into our game against Starmount. Everybody feels good and they’re ready to play another game,” Lopez said.
The Cardinals put pressure on the ball in the first half, but a defensive lapse gave Elkin a great opportunity on goal. Said Islas broke free of his defenders and cut past the keeper, giving him a clear path at the net. Islas’ shot came off his foot, perhaps a bit too early, and went wide to the right. The non-goal kept the score 2-0 with under five minutes to play. Elkin finally broke through with under five minutes remaining, maintaining great pressure. The Elks were rewarded with one final shot at net in the final 10 seconds, but freshman James Burcham dove in front of the ball just in front of a striker to keep it away as time expired.
“This program’s gone through a lot over the years, and to come into Elkin, and beat them on their home field, it’s saying a lot,” East Wilkes Head Coach Rodney Wagoner said. “We brought in a new formation, had some guys in different roles, and it worked out.”
Elkin played a non-conference game against West Stokes Tuesday (score not available at press time) before it got ready for Wednesday’s final match of the regular season against North Wilkes (4-16, 4-9 MVAC) at home.
East Wilkes moves on to play Starmount (14-5, 10-3 MVAC) on the road in the final regular season match. Starmount had a thrilling game of its own Monday, beating Wilkes Central in penalty kicks 2-2 (4-3). It’s fitting that senior and captain Vicente Adame had the game winning penalty kick. The last time the Cardinals played Wilkes Central at home, the Eagles broke free for a goal and went on to win. At the time, without a doubt, the most visably emotional player on the field was Adame.
With the game on the line, Adame nailed it home as the Rams earned redemption. It didn’t come easy, as Wilkes Central jumped out to a 2-0 lead after 11 minutes. However, junior Salomon Maya scored in the 15th minute, and junior Juan Mora scored in the 25th to knot things up.
Maya added a penalty kick, while sophomores Jordan Anderson and Victor Maya came up with the other two before Adame hit the one that would decide it. It’s Wilkes Central’s first conference loss all season, and for Starmount, it keeps the Rams tied for second overall in the Mountain Valley Athletic Conference, owning the tiebreaker if necessary.
Ryan DeCosta can be reached at 336-258-4052 or via Twitter @rsdecosta.