Southwest soccer holds off Bison
The Southwest Guilford boys soccer team set the tone early and hung on late.
With the conference's last playoff berth on the line, the Cowboys scored the first three goals of the game and survived High Point Central's late rally to win 4-2 on Thursday at the High Point Athletic Complex.
“We got up 3-0 and were playing well,” Southwest coach Rob Szitas said. “But we can't afford to let teams come back. Obviously, Central's a good team. They're well-coached, and they knew they needed to win to have a chance at leap-frogging us to get to the playoffs.
“So, we knew we were going to bring everything, and they did. They never quit. So, you've got to give them a lot of credit. Luckily for us, we were able to get the lead, and the last one there kind of sealed it and put it out of reach — which allowed me to relax a little bit,” he said with a laugh.
Jeremy Cronin scored two goals, while Holden Hmiel had a goal and an assist to lead the Cowboys (15-4-2, 6-4 Piedmont Triad 4A), who clinched the conference's third and final automatic playoff berth with the win.
Andrew Gullickson also had a goal, while Evan Thomas and Trent Mayberry each had an assist, as Southwest Guilford controlled much of the game's first 50 minutes, keyed by first-half goals by Gullickson (27:00) and Hmiel (12:03) to lead 2-0.
“That was very important,” Szitas said of his team's first-half performance. “We knew if they scored first or we didn't jump on them right away and let them in the game or have the momentum, then things might not go the way we'd want them to. So, we said we'd set the tone early, and we were able to do that.
“We were primed, we were ready. We talked about it all during practice yesterday and during our warmups today. We were just ready to go. We wanted to come out and make a statement as early as we could, which was good.”
The Bison (12-7, 4-6 PTC) — who could've tied for third with a win, setting up penalty kicks following the game as a tiebreaker — rallied in the final 30 minutes on goals by Campbell Locke (30:14) and Carlos Murillo (18:40).
Locke headed in Murillo's corner kick, and then Murillo lofted in a shot off the goalkeeper and into the net to pull within 3-2. Central then created a couple good looks before Cronin scored his second goal of the half with less than two minutes left.
“I thought we played well,” Bison coach Kate Finch said. “I thought our second half was much stronger than our first half, and that's kind of been the story of our play lately. We're a second-half team, and we've talked about how we have to put a solid 80 minutes together.
“It's something about our forwards, when they connect up top,” she said of the team's second-half surge. “When they find feet and play simple, and when they can connect up top, that's what happens. … It was refreshing to see that, especially with hopes of playing next week. To see them not put their heads down, that was good.”
Kyle Shina made three saves in goal for the Cowboys, while Parker Ford and Stephen Smith combined for seven for Central, which will have to wait for the playoffs brackets to be released to see if it was selected as a wild card.
The first game of the playoffs are will be played Tuesday or Wednesday.