Following a tough stretch that saw Harnett Central’s boys soccer team drop its first two All American Conference games of the season, Tuesday’s home matchup with Triton carried high stakes.
ANGIER — Following a tough stretch that saw Harnett Central’s boys soccer team drop its first two All American Conference games of the season, Tuesday’s home matchup with rival Triton carried high stakes for a second time this fall.
With the score even at the end of regulation Central found themselves locked in a third straight overtime contest and Adrian Flores made sure the team wouldn’t suffer the same result from its previous two.
During the first half of overtime, the sophomore striker headed a well-placed corner kick into the net, helping down Triton 2-1 and keeping its league title hopes alive.
“We did not want to lose three games in a row. We hadn’t lost three games in a row all season, so that would’ve been bad,” Central (10-4, 9-2 AAC) coach Williams Haynes said.
“I think we played better than they did, to be honest.”
With just one game left on their regular-season schedule, the Trojans are still in position to share or claim the outright conference championship and Triton (13-5-1, 8-3 AAC) is virtually taken out of the running.
Hawks coach Brian Foster was more complimentary of his group following the rematch than he was after the 3-1 home loss to the Trojans on Sept. 27.
“I have absolutely no problem with their effort tonight. The boys went as hard as they could go and decided they wanted to play an extra 20 (minutes), so they did,” Foster said.
“Do I wish things turned out differently? Obviously. But we didn’t get outplayed.”
Flores got things started early in the first half, converting a corner from Richard Diego, who assisted on both team goals. The defensive match would stay locked at one heading into the break as both goalkeepers proved stingy throughout.
Hawks goalie Braxton Davis and Trojans keeper Deshawn Carty each tallied four saves.
Triton cracked Carty’s code in the second half, as Elias Lopez evened things at 1 off a Benny Villalvazo assist.
Both squads had chances on goal in the closing minutes in regulation, but couldn’t break through until Flores’ game-winner.
Central plays Westover on Thursday and with a win clinches at least a share of the regular-season title, while Triton hosts second-place Terry Sanford.
A Trojans victory would also give them the top seed in next week’s All American Conference Boys Soccer Tournament.
Donnell Coley can be reached at email@example.com or 910 230-2040.