ST. PAULS — With the return of the St. Pauls boy’s soccer team this season, coach Brent Martin has tried to instill a positive a positive attitude into his players.
Tuesday that meant trying to recover from a one-goal deficit at halftime of a 4-3 win against Purnell Swett.
“A lot of times teams have a tendency to get down on themselves, like we were down 2-1 in the first half,” Martin said. “I tell them to keep positive, even if you get frustrated with another player don’t have negative thoughts because that’s not going to do anything but tear you down.”
Instead, the Bulldogs (2-6) came out of halftime and did the small things — short give and go passes, finding the open lane – which led to three goals against the Rams (2-2) in the first 21 minutes and the team’s second win of the season.
The game-deciding goals came in a 12 minute span that ended roughly midway through the second half.
Trailing Purnell Swett 2-1, St. Pauls’ Erik Perez crossed a ball in from the right side of the field, outside the box, catching Hugo Calderon mid-stride. Calderon headed it in to tie it with 31 left in the game.
Four minutes later, the two switched places, with Calderon putting an arching cross over the box that went off the hand of Swett goalie Christian Brayboy and landed at Perez’s feet. Perez then kicked it in to make it 3-2.
The game deciding goal came with 19:22 left, when Isaiah Reyes netted a shot from several meters behind the left corner of the box.
Trailing 4-2 didn’t stop the Rams, who had all three goals scored by Joseph Velasquez.
Velasquez scored both of his first-half goals by drawing the goalie towards him, then putting the shot by.
With 11 minutes left in the third he fielded a corner kick that had bounced around the box and struck a liner to the bottom right corner of the net.
Velasquez later led an offensive attack that kept St. Pauls playing back until the final whistle. With 1:14 left, he struck a ball that sailed towards the top of the net, instead bouncing off the crossbar.
Swett coach Alaric Strickland credited his team with playing until the very end.
“They know 80 minutes is 80 minutes,” Strickland said. “That’s how we lost one of our first games is that we only played 60 minutes and the team scored two goals in the last 20 minutes to beat us, so we’re learning.”
The teams played similarly, splitting possession near equally. Purnell Swett finished the game with only one more shot on goal than St. Pauls.
Dennis Verdugo had 10 saves for the Bulldogs and Brayboy had eight for Swett.
Martin expected the Rams to make a late run and rested his starters for 10 of the last 20 minutes hoping to keep it close.
“I knew it would be tough at the end,” he said.
Lumberton volleyball beats Hoke
RAEFORD — The Lumberton volleyball team struggled in the first set but recovered to beat Hoke in four, giving the team its first conference win of the season.
The Pirates (7-1, 1-1) won the match 12-25, 25-16, 25-20, 25-13.
Coach Jeff McLamb said his team has faced a trend of losing the first game on the road.
“It takes a good team getting over it and coming back,” he said.
Lumberton was led by Kayla Kerns, who had a team-high six kills and seven aces. Mariah Locklear had five kills and two blocks.
Lumberton also won the JV match 2-1.
Purnell Swett volleyball tops Richmond
ROCKINGHAM — Purnell Swett’s volleyball team didn’t let early struggles keep them down.
After losing the first two sets in Tuesday’s match at Richmond,the Rams rallied to win three straight games and get a 22-25, 22-25, 25-23, 25-18, 15-10 win.
The Rams are 9-1 this season and 1-1 in league play.