Before the start of Monday night’s season opener, Wilkes Central Head Coach Jim Caudill worried about how his Eagles would fare against a Fred T. Foard club that had a considerable edge in experience.
And a program he knows very well having previously coached the Catawba Valley Youth Soccer Association of Hickory.
While the Eagles dropped a 4-1 decision at Wes Steele Stadium in Moravian Falls, Caudill walked away from the match with several positives they can build off of.
“This is a night where we’re fresh out of the box and they’ve played two matches (a win over Hendersonville and a draw against Ledford), they had a lot of club players that I recognized and that I coached and were quality players five years ago and I was tickled to death with how we competed,” said Caudill. “I told the boys that some of them gained stock tonight and some of them dropped a little stock but it’s nothing that we can’t fix.”
In an effort to slow down the Tigers’ offense, Central took more of a defensive approach early in Monday’s match.
The strategy worked for the majority of the first half, until Carlos Erazo-Rojo scored in the 29th minute for his first of two goals.
Foard (2-0-1) pushed the advantage to 2-0 just before halftime as Andrei Tamas headed home a goal off a corner kick.
“They’re a dominating team. They play what we call ‘pretty soccer’, they’re knocking it around, trying to find those avenues to get in and we’re worn down from playing defense but we had our opportunities,” said Caudill. “Tradin (Allen) had a couple of really good looks on goal and just didn’t finish them and hopefully in a week or two, he’ll be able to finish them.”
Erazo-Rojo, a junior, added his other goal in the 43rd minute when he went top shelf with a shot that went past the outstretched hand of Central goalkeeper Roman O’Sullivan.
Kevin Cervantes made it a 4-0 lead in the 61st minute when he scored off a cross pass.
Fred T. Foard outshot the Eagles 33-6 (26-4 in shots on goal) but O’Sullivan kept the Tigers at bay for the most part, and Central close, with 19 stops.
“Roman in goal was a really pleasant surprise that he was in traffic the entire match but he was where he had to be most of the time,” said Caudill. “The goals that he gave up were just well-struck balls. The header on the corner was a little tough and we’ve got to clean that up a little bit, but other than that, we had some great minutes from a lot of kids.”
David Olson started on Monday and saw considerable minutes and made some good runs to help set up some chances.
The freshman’s biggest contribution of the match came in the 71st minute.
After Foard goalkeeper Trevor Holmberg had a clean sheet going, which included stopping Allen on a breakaway in the 64th minute, Olson found a wide-open Allen, racing down the right side of the pitch.
From there, the senior scored past Holmberg to avoid being shut out.
“That really helped that we could put something on that board against them instead of a goose egg,” Caudill said of Allen’s goal. “And that’s why we play these tough teams because I think it preps us for conference, to go in and play good, quality opponents — it just makes us a better soccer team.”
Monday’s match was the start of a busy week for the Eagles, who traveled to South Caldwell (and lost 2-0) and Surry Central on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.
The Tigers returned to the pitch on Thursday when they hosted Catawba County foe Saint Stephens.