Chargers double up North Pitt in first soccer victory of season
Ayden-Grifton soccer coach Jeffrey Stelly shows off his team's new jersey. Photo by Scott Cole / Neuse News
AYDEN -- Christmas came early for Ayden-Grifton soccer coach Jeffrey Stelly on Wednesday. First, he discovered the new uniforms he ordered for his team had finally come in. After his team donned the new jerseys, they took on and defeated the visiting North Pitt Panthers 2-1 to earn Stelly his first victory as head coach.
“As happy as I was, I was more relieved,” Stelly said of playing the game. “Coming in from cross country over to this, I have always wanted to do well and have been nervous about that. ... It means a lot that our first win came against a program that I respect so much in North Pitt.
"That is a good team and a very good coach that we played.”
North Pitt led 1-0 before the Chargers struck back. Axel Hernandez, the Charger with three out of the four goals scored on the season, scored both goals for the Chargers in the game.
On his first goal, he was fed a pass by his brother, Anthony Hernandez, across the field through a crowd. Alex got a shot and plunked it in behind the goalie.
“We’ve been working on getting Axel and Anthony open to give them better chances to score,” Stelly said.” The midfielders did a much better job feeding them the ball to get them their chances in this game.”
Hernandez scored his second shot when he was assisted by Jandery Angel. She had fed the ball through the defense to meet him and he banked it in.
Alex Nichols had 14 saves for the win as the Chargers’ goalie.
“That’s the best goaltending I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” Stelly said.”He was aggressive and confident. The way he handled himself carried over to the rest of the team. The defense wanted to try harder to keep the other team away from him, but they knew that if someone got free, he could bail us out. And he did the whole game.
Losing can be contagious, but so can winning. After having late game collapses, Stelly was proud his team was able to turn it around for this game.
“We knew throughout the summer that the team had gotten better,” Stelly said. “It was going to be a matter of when we could get over our demons and get the job done. It wasn’t really that we won the game, it was more that we refused to lose it. We scratched and fought every single second of that game.”
“This wins means a whole lot for us,” senior captain Caleb Benson said. “It’s a big mental victory, because we can get the ball rolling and seeing what we can work on. It felt good to get a good early win and seeing what we need to do to be dominant on the field.”
Ayden-Grifton’s next game will be in Bethel as they travel to North Pitt on Aug. 29.