Some teams are special because a few star players carry it to soaring heights. Some teams are special because of the chemistry and camaraderie shared amongst the players. Some teams are special because of their positive attitude no matter the outcome. Your 2010 Hickory Ridge men's soccer team is special because there is no one individual to stop, there is no quit, and they seemingly defy all odds to post a result when one should not logically be posted. Such was the case Tuesday night against the quality of Cox Mill on their pitch. With starting (and only) goalkeeper Drew Andreotti relegated to the bench as a spectator due to an injury suffered against Central Cabarrus last Thursday night and the SPC 4th place Cox Mill crowd loud and rambunctious, the prospects for a Bulls victory were greatly diminished. But special teams overcome long odds and that is precisely what your Ragin' Bulls did.
Now it should be noted that Drew is not a keeper by training. On his club teams Drew was a field player, but since Hickory Ridge's inception 4 years ago Drew has agreed to sacrifice for his school team by agreeing to become the full time goal keeper. There wasn't a viable goalie then and there isn't a viable goalie now that would help the team be successful.... until, perhaps, tonight that is. Enter Sr. Alex Batson. Alex has no goalie training, and, to my knowledge, has never played keeper in his life except for some time last week vs. Central and 15 minutes against Concord earlier this season. Yet, if there was a man of the match awarded for this game, it would be awarded to Alex with honorary mention awarded to the defense. The first half was a fairly even affair as to possession and shots on goal with maybe a slight advantage to Cox Mill. The Cox Mill Mavericks scored first on a controversial no call as Alex was bulled over defending a shot and the ensuing rebound shot was sent in to give the Mavericks a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute of the match. 13 minutes later, the Mavericks scored again on a double header that even Tim Howard from the U.S. National team would struggle preventing. However, the key point in the entire match occurred about a minute after going down 2-0 when a foul by the Bulls occurred inside the penalty box. With the Cox Mill crowd amping up the noise and the Hickory Ridge parents fidgeting nervously in their seats, the ensuing penalty kick was thwarted by Alex as he dove to his left and collected the PK to preserve the 2-0 deficit. The heroic save ignited the Bulls defense and they prevented another shot on goal for the remainder of the half.
The second half was all Hickory Ridge as Coach Wolfe made a key coaching decision to change the alignment from a defensive one to protect Alex to the more traditional one the lads had been playing all year. From the opening kick the Bulls dominated play, time of possession, shots on goal (Cox Mill had maybe 2 in the entire 2nd half), you name it, they dominated. Brandon Castillo got things rolling 4 minutes into the 2nd half when he converted a free kick from about 30 yards out into a goal to cut the deficit in half, 2-1 Mavericks. The Bulls continued their relentless pressure and were rewarded when Jerome Means put yet another seeing eye shot through the entire Cox Mill defense and past the keeper to knot the score at 2-2 with 6:31 remaining in the contest. Not even 2 minutes later Adrian Ike put a shot from a difficult angle into the back right corner of the net to the give the Bulls its first lead of the match at 3-2. The last 4 minutes of the contest saw the Bulls turn back one Mavericks attack after another and, with the final whistle blowing and the final score 3-2 Bulls, the Bulls special season drives on. We have now set a school record for wins at 13-2-1 overall, 9-1 in the SPC and are now only 1 point behind Concord in SPC play who is 7-0-2 after their draw Tuesday night vs. Robinson. (Note: 1 point behind assuming no other losses/ties for the remainder of their year ignoring the result of the HR-Concord match up)