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Surviving weather conditions and a tough opponent on Monday, the St. Stephens soccer team picked up a big conference victory against rival Fred T. Foard.
Sophomore Luke Bruce scored a goal for the Indians (5-1-1, 3-0-1) in the 62nd minute of the game and held off a late game charge by the Tigers (8-5-1, 3-2-0) to earn the win.
â€śFoard is one of the toughest teams in the conference,â€ť said Indians coach Chris Nelson. â€śWe knew we had to come ready to play. The guys worked really hard out there.â€ť
A scary scene happened in the first half. Foardâ€™s Ben Hilton connected on a header, but the blow took him out of the game and off in an ambulance on a stretcher at halftime.
â€śWhenever Ben made contact with the ball, something happened with his lower back,â€ť said Foard coach Scottie Goforth. â€śHe said he had some numbness in his legs. Hopefully, its just something muscular that can be massaged out.â€ť
When play resumed, the Tigers attempted to take the lead behind a penalty kick attempt by Kenan Ruffner.
Ruffnerâ€™s kick hit freshman goalkeeper Andrew Bare in the hands, who was able to come up with the big save.
â€śWe had a couple of really big saves that went our way, including Andrew saving the penalty kick,â€ť Nelson said. â€śThere was another one later that nearly bounced in. We needed those.â€ť
The teams went into halftime tied 0-0. It stayed that way for just over 21 minutes longer.
Thatâ€™s when Bruce charged past defender Jordan Turner, evaded two Tigers and goalkeeper Zach Schellenberger. Bruceâ€™s tap to the left side of the goal moved slowly, but eventually grazed the back of the net.
â€śIn these conditions, I was afraid for us to hit it too soft,â€ť Nelson said. â€śThatâ€™s something weâ€™ve been working on. We donâ€™t want to just blast it over the goal. We want to place the ball, find a point and put it in. That is what Luke was able to do in the second half for us.â€ť
With 13 minutes remaining in the game, referees temporarily stopped action after seeing a flash of lightening. Both teams were sent indoors until the weather cleared.
After play resumed, the Indians held off two late goal attempts, including a bouncing save by goalkeeper Alfredo Abreu-Zavala, to win the game.
Up next for St. Stephens is another rival in fourth-ranked 3A team Hickory (10-1-2, 4-0-0).
â€śHickory is a great team,â€ť Nelson said. â€śThey are well-coached. We are going to go out and play the best way we can.â€ťView more articles in: