A tough stretch of soccer games for St. Stephens got even harder on Monday, when the Indians hosted second-ranked Hickory.
The Red Tornadoes (18-1-2, 11-0-0) scored five goals, including three in the second half, maintaining their unbeaten mark in conference play with a 5-0 win over St. Stephens.
It was the third straight game that the Indians (7-5-2, 5-4-2) were shut out, following a 0-0 tie against Hibriten and a 2-0 loss to Foard last Wednesday.
"We are in a little bit of a slump right now,” said Indians coach Chris Nelson. “Hopefully, we can get it together.”
After Hickory grabbed an early 1-0 lead on a goal from forward Chris Dixon, an offside call by the side judge was waved off, leading to a goal by Carlos Sevilla — Hickory’s second score in the first half.
It was a call Nelson did not agree with.
"I'm still really not sure on that second goal,” Nelson said. “That call went against us. Going down 2-0 and going down 1-0 is a different ball game going into the half. That hurt us."
Having only two shots on goal all game, the Indians’ frustrations boiled over.
Dixon pocketed his second goal of the contest at the 60th minute following an Indians yellow card.
The emotions carried through the next eight minutes, leading to two more Hickory goals — one by Cody Dula and Sevilla’s second score.
"In the second half, we just didn't get a break,” Nelson said. “They put one in, and we fell apart. The credit is to Hickory. Coach (Brian) Jillings had them ready to play. Their boys came in and did their business. Hats off to them."
St. Stephens takes on Watauga on Wednesday, a game Nelson said will be crucial for his team’s potential playoff positioning.
“This pretty much puts us in a must-win situation,” Nelson said. “We'll see what we can do on Wednesday."