South Johnston’s boys soccer team looked dominant Monday in a 4-1 win at Harnett Central.
The win marks five-straight for the green and gold Trojans, who have started to heat up after starting off the year with a tough loss to Corinth Holders and a draw with Smithfield-Selma.
“We’re playing well right now,” said South assistant coach Edgar Herrerra. “We’ve just got to keep improving, keep working on the little things. But I liked our intensity for the most part tonight. We had some lapses towards the end, but [Central is] a good, physical team and it’s tough to play here, so we’re happy to get the win.
Four different players scored and three notched assists for South (5-1-1). Junior winger Josh Williams and junior attacking midfielder Bruce Miranda each bagged a goal and dealt an assist. Freshman forwards Jose Valenzaela and Briay Perez both scored goals on the rebound. Junior midfielder Lester Martinez Garcia had an assist.
Senior forward Jonny Solis had the lone goal for Central (0-4). Senior midfielder Liam Peebles dealt the assist.
Central had some chances early, but South controlled the run of play for most of the first half. South finally broke through in the 17th minute when junior fullback Austin Collins burst down the right side. He played a perfect pass across the box to Miranda, who slid it over to Williams to give South the early lead.
Later, with about five minutes to spare in the first half, South struck again. Martinez Garcia made a great run forward and slipped a shot past the goalkeeper that struck the bottom-right corner of the post. Luckily, Valenzaela was there to clean it up and give South a 2-0 lead heading into halftime.
South added to that advantage nine minutes into the second half when Williams decided to have a pop from the left flank. His shot was parried away, but directly into the path of Perez who made it 3-0.
Miranda tacked on the final goal with a penalty kick after senior forward Misael Garcia was tripped up in the box, giving South a 4-0 lead with 26 minutes to play.
The game did get chippy towards the end, but Central finally started to find some momentum and broke the shutout with 11 minutes left. Peebles weaved right through the middle of South’s defense and laid it off to Solis to make it 4-1.
With less than four minutes left, Peebles nearly scored, but his header off of a corner kick struck the crossbar and was cleared away.
“We should have been there the whole time,” said Central coach Nick Brommer. “Last time we played them much tougher (Central lost 4-2 but held a 2-1 lead at one point). Today just wasn’t our day. We got outplayed.”
South followed up Monday’s win with a home game against Western Harnett on Tuesday. South won 10-1 in the game at Western last Tuesday. They’ll play again Thursday at Midway.
“Hopefully we can keep this up,” Herrera said. “We want to keep winning these nonconference games and build some confidence heading into conference play.”
Central, still searching for its first win, will try to turn things around on the road Wednesday at Smithfield-Selma.
For live updates on games and other sports news, follow Jacob Hancock on Twitter (@jhancockTDR). He can also be reached by email at email@example.com.