Aycock drops soccer opener
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on August 22, 2009 11:41 PM
WILSON -- Charles B. Aycock started strong.
Hickory finished stronger.
Junior forward Michael Delong supplied two goals and one assist as the No. 15-ranked Red Tornadoes sloshed their way to a 3-1 victory over the Golden Falcons on a rainy Saturday afternoon.
It was the season opener for Aycock, which was making its second consecutive appearance in The Brittany Willis Memorial Scholarship Soccer Showcase.
Hickory improved to 3-0-0 overall this season.
"We started out well," said Aycock coach Kevin Adkins. "Conditioning-wise, you could tell toward the end of the ballgame that we'd run out of gas. They're a very good team ... pass the ball well."
Midfield play proved crucial as the teams battled in a torrential downpour for three-quarters of the match. The Red Tornadoes transitioned well from defense to offense, found their shape in the backfield and generated consistent attacks on goal -- particularly in the second half.
Delong trapped a ball with his chest and passed it toward senior Drake Fisher, who delivered the game-winning goal late in the second half. Delong's goal occurred out of the flow of play, a right-footed blast that squeezed between Aycock keeper Brandon Davis and the near post.
Davis ended the match with 13 saves.
"We spread the field more, passed a lot quicker and played faster than we did the first half because we came out really slow," said Delong of the second 40 minutes. "In the first half we played long balls, but this half we shortened it up ... played the ball down the line and did much better with that."
Aycock (0-1-0) recorded the game's first goal within the first two minutes. Senior Jose Rodriguez collected a loose ball in the penalty area and fired a one-touch strike inside the near post.
Hickory answered later in the half on Delong's first goal.
"They're pretty good and their defense is strong," Delong said of Aycock. "But having no midfield hurt them."
The Golden Falcons return five starters off last year's team which captured an unprecedented fourth consecutive Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference regular-season championship. Three additional starters either transferred or elected not to play this season, leaving Adkins' team short-handed in the midfield.
The lack of distribution and attack on goal led to just seven shots.
"Our midfield was completely dead today," said Adkins. "When you have a gap of 30 yards between the defense and forwards, then there is nothing there. Our midfield was almost non-existent all day."
Aycock's Patrick Schultze, a three-year starter, and Hickory goalie Julian Deutsch received the sportsmanship awards for the match.