09/24/09 — Saints open conference play 2-0

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Saints open conference play 2-0

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on September 24, 2009 1:46 PM

DUDLEY -- Approximately three feet.

That is the distance that kept North Lenoir from forcing overtime in a 5-4 loss to Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference foe Southern Wayne at the Doyle Whitfield Athletic Complex on Wednesday night.

With 15 seconds to play, the Saints were called for a foul just outside the 18-yard box. Hugo Garcia lined up the direct kick and fired around the Southern Wayne wall. The ball slid just wide of the left post and harmlessly crossed the end line.

"It was a very exciting way to end a game," said Saints head coach Mario Aguilar. "I thought we did a pretty good job defensively, but (North Lenoir) created a chance. We are happy to get a win tonight."

The game started at a furious pace as the Saints jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the opening 11 minutes on goals by Jesus Rodriguez and Ivan Perez.

North Lenoir found its rhythm as the first half progressed.

Jeraldo Huerta got the Hawks on the board in the 20th minute when he collected a loose ball and found the back of the net. Filiberto Gonzalez tied the contest with seven minutes to play in the half when he received a pass from Garcia and chipped it into the goal.

"Our guys fought back and I am really proud of that," said Hawks coach John Pyle. "We did a good job of adjusting to their quickness and that made a big difference."

The Saints (5-5 overall, 2-0 ECC) seized the lead just four minutes into the second half when Rodriguez beat a North Lenoir double team and fired a shot past the keeper. It was Rodriguez' sixth goal in the last two games.

"Jesus is a very good player because he anticipates things well," said Aguilar. "When the ball is coming to him he knows exactly where it has to go."

Juan Arriga added an insurance goal for Southern Wayne in the 18th minute. Abraham Ponce made the score 5-2 in the Saints' favor just two minutes later when a rebound deflected to him on the left post for an easy score.

With time running out, the Hawks (8-6, 0-2) mounted a furious comeback attempt.

Garcia scored on an unassisted play with 18 minutes left in the contest and notched an assist in the final two minutes when he found Tyler Sanders for a score.

"We lost one of our primary goal scorers in the last game with a broken foot," said Pyle. "Tonight I thought it took our guys some time to adjust, but once we did we played pretty well."