South Aiken T-Breds get gritty win over Aiken Hornets in boys' soccer
SOUTH AIKEN 1 AIKEN 0
For much of the first half of the boys' soccer game between crosstown rivals Aiken and South Aiken, the Hornets dominated the action. Playing at the Stomping Grounds Thursday, Aiken was able force the ball deep into South Aiken's end of the field, and generated several scoring opportunities.
Unfortunately for the Hornets, they could never find a way to score. When the Thoroughbreds, the ninth-ranked team in Class AAAA, capitalized on a broken play with about five minutes remaining in the first half, that goal turned out to be the game-winner in a 1-0 victory.
“We did everything except score,” said Roger Carpenter, Aiken's head coach. “We took it to them, and there were lots of screaming shots. … They made one shot, and we didn't.”
South Aiken freshman Mitchell Myers was the only player to score, in spite of a combined 27 shots on goal between the Region 5-AAAA rivals. He got the ball on a turnover in South Aiken's offensive third of the field. Myers moved to his left to create space, but toward the goal, when he launched a shot from beyond the penalty box. It escaped the outstretched arms of a diving Bradley Cardona and found the back of the net.
“They caught us sleeping on a quick counter,” Carpenter said. “But they do well to put those guys outside.”
South Aiken (10-2-1, 4-1) made the lone score stand up.
Its defense rose to every challenge, and in the second half, the T-Breds did a better job of controlling possession of the ball and dictating where the action occurred.
In spite of that, South Aiken head coach Dave Myers wasn't pleased with his squad's execution.
“To (the Hornets') credit, they're very physical and played a high-pressure game. Because of the emotion of the game, the rivalry, we fell into that,” Dave Myers said. “For gaps, we played our game in the second half, we created opportunities. We defended well, but didn't play the way we were supposed to.”
The T-Breds' coach wasn't happy with his team's decision making, often yelling at his players to react more rapidly. He was also critical of their lack of possession. He was pleased that they improved as the game went on and that their improved consistency created more scoring opportunities. For the game, South Aiken was outshot 17-10.
Machi Provost used his speed to generate four shots for Aiken (10-5, 2-3), while teammate Reid DeMass also got off four shots on South Aiken goalie Colby Campbell. But Campbell was strong in net, recording double-digit saves, and was supported by the smothering coverage of Matt Albertson on defense.
Aside from the lone score, Cardona was a wall, recording nine saves for the Hornets.
“Winning this type of game, real gritty, helps our confidence,” Dave Myers said of finding a way to prevail when the T-Breds weren't at their best. “This is a big hurdle for us. There's so much emotion involved, to get over it is a big deal.”
South Aiken's next game is on the road against Region 5-AAAA opponent Dutch Fork on Tuesday. Aiken will return to action on Monday for a non-region contest at Silver Bluff. Carpenter is optimistic that the effort his team displayed against their rival will carry over to that contest and for the remainder of the season.
“This is probably the best all-around we've played all year. If we can keep that intensity, we can beat a lot of teams,” Carpenter said. “We took a good team to the brink.”
Noah Feit is the sports editor for the Aiken Standard and has been a professional journalist for more than 14 years after graduating from Syracuse University.