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The Hickory Red Tornadoes were motivated going into Wednesdayâ€™s rivalry match against St. Stephens. The Red Tornadoes suffered their first loss of the year Tuesday to Asheville Roberson on a last-minute goal, and they lost last season at Hickory to their crosstown rivals.
â€śWe wanted to knock Saint out of the playoffs,â€ť Hickory senior Michael Delong said. â€śWe knew they were going to come ready, and they brought it. We just brought it more.â€ť
Delong led the charge for the Red Tornadoes. The senior, only in his third season playing soccer, tied his career best with four goals and an assist in Hickoryâ€™s 7-3 win at home over St. Stephens.
Delong, however, could have had more. He had a scoring opportunity called back in the first half because of offside, and he had two point-blank shots hit the left post and crossbar, respectively, during a sequence in the second half.
â€śHe just has the natural ability to finish,â€ť Hickory coach Brian Jillings said.
Hickory is 10-0-0 and on top of the Northwestern 3-A/4-A standings with two conference matches left. St. Stephens dropped to 5-6-0 in conference play.
Hickory finished a lot Wednesday scoring on 7 of 22 shots in the match, and five of those goals came in the second half. St. Stephens coach Chris Nelson said two of the Indiansâ€™ defensive starters did not play, and the back line was fatigued as the game progressed.
St. Stephens got within two goals twice in the second half. Chris Sigmon cut Hickoryâ€™s lead to 4-2 less than a minute after Hickoryâ€™s Adam Betzweiser scored on a penalty kick, and St. Stephensâ€™ Osvaldo Longinos-Cruz made it 5-3 20 seconds after a Hickory goal by Carlos Sevilla.
Sevilla and Delong connected twice. Sevilla assisted on Delongâ€™s first goal, and Delong assisted Sevilla in the second half. Sevilla scored two goals in the win, and Hickory goalkeeper Julian Deutsch had three saves.
Longinos-Cruz and Sigmon each had a goal and an assist for the Indians, and Ben Watson scored the Indiansâ€™ first goal in the 14th minute to tie the match at 1.
St. Stephens goalkeeper Jon Holloway had six saves.View more articles in: