Greene Central comes back to defeat North Lenoir
Greene Central’s Ulises Mora looks to split the defense of North Lenoir’s Luis Cordova (11) and Taiwan Hines during Wednesday’s contest at Barnet Park. Photo by Danielle Howell / Special to Neuse News
For the second straight game, North Lenoir fell victim to quick scoring from the opposition at Barnet Park.
Greene Central took over in the second half, defeating the Hawks 2-1 Wednesday in a fast and physical match. Momentum shifted regularly in a contest of strong teams in the Eastern Carolina Conference, but the Rams (11-4, 6-1 ECC) were able to do a little more to come away with the win.
“It was a great win,” Greene Central coach Matthew Gnau said. “It was a hard-fought game and both teams played really well. It was the best game we played us controlling the midfield, especially in the center and outside.
“Our goal is to keep improving throughout the season and peak in time for the playoffs. We’ve got a great chance of hosting a playoff game and this win was huge in that possibility.”
The Hawks (8-4-1, 2-3) fell 4-0 to Washington Monday at its new home court due to sinkhole damage in the Swamp, but withstood a vicious Rams attack early. Orlando Gallardo made six of his nine saves in the first half for North Lenoir as Greene Central took a 12-7 advantage in shots. Still, the Hawks went up 1-0 after Jose Sanchez scored on a rebound in the 15th minute after Taiwan Hines’ free kick hit the top of the crossbar.
North Lenoir would start the second half more aggressive, but Greene Central’s Nolberto Castillo held his ground with five of his seven saves. The Rams withstood the early attack before picking up a goal from Eduardo Gonzalez — assisted by Jose Morquecho — in the 47th minute to tie the game.
In the 60th minute, Nathan Drake lofted a pass to Ulises Mora, who kicked the ball from about 20 yards out and had it sail past Gallardo on a slant for the go-ahead goal.
“I made the run, hit it good and it went in,” Mora said. “This game was really big. North Lenoir is our biggest rival in the conference and we wanted to win.”
North Lenoir refused to quit, outshooting Greene Central 11-9, but Castillo made several big saves in the last few minutes to preserve the win.
My teammates were helping me out,” Castillo said. “They kept talking to me and I tried my best because I knew if (North Lenoir) scored they would’ve tied the game, and it might’ve gone to penalty kicks. I really wanted to win this game—it was important to me.”
North Lenoir coach Chris Evans said the team is still looking to find itself a bit after Hurricane Florence and has faced tough competition late. Besides the two games this week, the Hawks battled Washington six days prior and have Greene Central again in Snow Hill on Oct. 16.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game and a battle all the way through,” Evans said. “We came up short — had a couple of breakdowns on defense that cost us — but I’m still proud of these guys. We’re still trying to get the chemistry back after two-and-a-half weeks off, but Greene Central is a great, well-coached team.”
The Hawks face Ayden-Grifton on the road Friday while the Rams host West Craven Thursday.