North Wilkes won three soccer matches combined in the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
Thursday evening at Raner Wiles Stadium in Hays, the 2019 edition of the Vikings won their third straight.
Behind a balanced attack, the Vikings dispatched nonconference foe Millennium Charter Academy 7-1, and continued a surprising early-season surge.
The scoring Thursday came from four different players, with seniors D.J. Stanley and Alex Ruvalcaba and freshman Ivan Duran each netting two goals apiece. And junior Yeferson Bonilla, in his first action of the fall, made his presence felt instantly with a first-half score of his own.
“It’s nice to have Yeferson back,” smiled North Wilkes Head Coach James Cline, whose team improved to 3-1 on the season. “He was able to come to some of our summer workouts, but he missed some practices at the start of the season. So we’re working him slowly back in. We’re going to get his stamina back to where it should be, and hopefully he’ll be full speed come conference.”
One player who always plays at full speed is Stanley, who Cline joked was “like watching a NASCAR race; that kid’s in fourth gear all the time.
“I’ve said it before,” continued Cline. “D.J. is the most consistently physical player we have on the team. He’s not afraid to stick his nose in there. I was really glad to see him get some success shooting the ball, because he’s always willing to do all the dirty work that sometimes doesn’t get you the recognition you deserve.”
Bonilla, Duran and Stanley all connected in the match’s first 10 minutes Thursday, as North put constant pressure on the Lions’ backline.
Millennium (0-4) threatened to make it interesting, however, in the match’s 12th minute, as the Lions’ Seth Haithcock found the back of the net after a nice run by teammate Emily Brooks helped set up the opportunity.
But North Wilkes responded to that score with a quick goal from Ruvalcaba in the 15th minute. There, the senior striker connected from the right, sending in a low shot that crossed the face of the goal and hit the net on the left for the 4-1 advantage.
Stanley extended the home team’s lead in the 29th. Pressure in front of the Lions’ goal resulted in a mess in the box, but Stanley was able to retrieve the ball amidst the bodies and pop it into the net on the left.
Otherwise, starting Vikings keeper Braydon McGlamery and his defense kept the Lions at bay. And freshman Samuel Garcia took McGlamery’s place in the second half and kept the scoreboard clean over the course of the match’s final 40 minutes.
“We were able to get everyone in tonight, which was important with as many freshmen as we have playing varsity soccer,” said Cline. “But it was also important that the tone we established early on didn’t change despite the substitutions we made. The goal was ultimately to play with the same intensity the entire 80 minutes, and in many ways I think we did just that. The communication, the effort…it was there tonight.”
Cline also praised the work of senior captain Felipe Morales, who tallied three assists.
Next up for the Vikings is a rematch with North Hills Christian Thursday in Hays. North Wilkes beat the Eagles 7-1 in Salisbury on Aug. 20.
The Lions tried to notch win number one in 2019 when they visited Elkin last night. The Elks represented the fourth Mountain Valley Athletic Conference team (in addition to North Wilkes, West Wilkes and Alleghany) to face off against Millennium this fall. Triad Math and Science Academy awaits the Lions tonight in a home match.