The Hickory Red Tornadoes rode to Fred T. Foard with a 10-game unbeaten streak in tow, and they left with the streak intact. The sixth-ranked Red Tornadoes scored two goals in the second half en route to a 3-0 shutout over the unranked Tigers.
“Foard is a tough place to play, so we knew we were going to be challenged and have to bring our ‘A’ game,” Hickory coach Brian Jillings. “We were going to heave to earn those goals.”
Hickory improved to 10-0-1 this season and 2-0-0 against the Northwestern 3-A/4-A. Foard fell to 6-2-3 overall and 1-1-0 in conference play.
The Red Tornadoes led 1-0 at halftime after Chris Dixon scored in the 34th minute on a header off a free kick from the left side of the field. Hickory’s Drew Collins scored an insurance goal in the 46th minute on a cross from the right side, and Michael Delong sealed the win in the 70th minute with a goal on an assist from Carlos Sevilla.
Jillings said Collins’ goal early in the second half “took the wind out of Foard’s sails a little bit,” and he added more touches for Sevilla — a small, quick midfielder — made a “big difference in the second half.”
Foard goalkeeper Zach Schellenberger, despite giving up three goals, had a solid night for the Tigers. He made an athletic save early in the game on a shot from Delong to keep the score tied at 0, and he ended the night with three saves.
“Zach has done a fine job all season for us,” Foard coach Scottie Goforth said. “He had a big performance tonight even with three goals.”
Hickory goalkeeper Julian Deutsch had one save in Hickory’s 10th win of the season.
The Tigers made key substitutions late in the game with smaller, faster players and put pressure on the Red Tornadoes’ defense. They controlled the ball in Hickory’s half of the field late in the game, but they did not capitalize on chances to put the ball in the back of the net.
Hickory had a 14-5 shot advantage over Foard in the match and 10-3 in the second half.