The second half began with much more energy and focus by the Bulls as they created several dangerous chances in the first 5 minutes. Unfortunately, their efforts went unrewarded and the Bulldogs evened the match at 1-1 in the 46th minute (6th minute of the 2nd half). Robinson followed that up with another score 3 minutes later to forge their last and only lead of the match 2-1. Now something needs to be pointed out here. This is a battle between 2 teams tied for 2nd place in the SPC, with each team having 1 loss thanks to SPC leading Concord. Both teams are 1/2 game behind Concord in the standings and if either team desires to finish first, this is a must win game. So going down 2-1 in the first 10 minutes of the 2nd half could have been a back breaker for the Bulls, but remember the lyrics by Ten Years After...."there's somethin' happenin' here, what it is ain't exactly clear...". So rather than accept being down, the Bulls increased their intensity even further putting tremendous pressure on the Bulldogs defense. 1:05 after losing the lead, Jr. Adrian Ike headed a throw-in from Sr. Chris Faber towards the goal where Jr. Brandon Castillo knocked it down and put a shot on frame that beat the Bulldogs keeper into the back left corner of the net to knot the game up at 2-2. Assist, Ike; goal, Castillo; momentum, Bulls. For the next 17 minutes Hickory Ridge had the better of the play, but Robinson created enough chances of their own to keep the large crowd, which was bolstered by the attendance of Harrisburg Youth Association soccer families, on the edge of their seats. Both sides missed excellent opportunities to take the lead until, with 13 minutes left in the contest, Jr. Adrian Ike collected a pass to the right corner, made a nifty move to allow the defender to run past, and sent a centering pass to the top of the 18 where Sr. midfielder Jerome Means sent a seeing eye shot through several defenders, past the keeper, and into the back right corner of the net to put the Bulls up 3-2. As is typical when playing a quality opponent that just fell behind, the Bulls had to prepare for a renewed onslaught from the losing side. The last 10 minutes of the match saw Hickory Ridge thwart one Bulldog attack after another. Sometimes by great defending from the outside fullbacks Sr. Garrett Hill and So. Darren Ballesteros, sometimes by the central defenders Hladik and Frederick, and sometimes by keeper Andreotti, but in no time was the defense broken. It was truly a team effort, from the coaches to the players, from the offense to the defense, from the starters to the subs and players that prepared them. Your Hickory Ridge Ragin Bulls are now 7-1 in the SPC, 1/2 game out of first and in sole possession of second. There's somethin' happenin' here....come join us.
Jr. Brandon Castillo celebrates his game tying goal against JM Robinson
Next game is at home on Thursday, 10/7 against Central Cabarrus.