For the first 70-plus minutes of Thursday’s boys’ soccer matchup between Aiken and rival South Aiken, the teams were locked in a scoreless tie. Over the closing moments of the game, the teams found themselves locked in several struggles near one goal or the other, and it was from one of these battles that the Hornets’ Dylan Snow emerged to score the game’s only goal in the 73rd minute for the 1-0 win over the T-Breds.

Aiken (7-5, 3-2 Region 5-AAAA) head coach Roger Carpenter said the win over South Aiken (9-2, 4-1) – the third-ranked team in Class AAAA in the most recent coaches’ poll – was a good change from mistakes in recent losses.

“They’re No. 3 in the state,” Carpenter said. “This is a big win right here.”

No player had a more crucial performance for the Hornets than goalkeeper Bradley Cardona. Against a skilled T-Bred offensive attack, Cardona stonewalled the visitors for 14 saves and the shutout.

“He came up big all game long,” Carpenter said of Cardona. “He made three or four big saves to keep us in the game.”

South Aiken got a few more looks at the goal after Snow gave the Hornets the lead, but Cardona and the Aiken defense turned them away. On the other end, the T-Breds’ Michael Ulmer had five saves on the night, but the one he didn’t get to proved costly.

South Aiken head coach Paul Waters said that he wished his team had pressed as hard for the whole game as it did down the stretch, but he didn’t overlook how intense the rivalry match was.

“The second half, I thought it was unbelievable effort,” Waters said. “That’s why we play the game; it was a great high school game.”

Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree from Mercer University and has been at the Aiken Standard since June 2010.