CONCORD — The Concord boys soccer team used another strong postseason defensive effort, in addition to more scoring from senior Carson Trott, to defeat Asheville A.C. Reynolds, 4-1, Wednesday at Robert C. Bailey Stadium in the third round of the Class 3A state tournament.
The Spiders, the second-seeded team in the West Region, improved their record to 24-1-2 and will play host to sixth-seeded Watauga in Saturday’s fourth round, which is the deepest Concord has ever gone in the state playoffs.
Trott scored two important goals, but the Concord defense applied pressure all night. The Spiders have allowed just two goals in three playoff games, and their defense wreaked havoc all night against the Rockets (20-4).
“I’m a defensive coach, so I’m real happy with how they’re playing,” Concord coach Todd Tinsley said of his players.
As the Spiders have made a habit this season, they jumped up to an early lead of 2-0 before the Rockets climbed back into it with a goal to bring things back within a shot.
The initial goal came off a Trott free kick only eight minutes into the match. The ball sailed left before one-hopping under the Rockets goalkeeper, Jack Morris.
The second Concord goal was a Carlos Alvarez score with 23 minutes left in the first half and came out of a mix of Spiders that made it hard to see. It came after the initial attempt was batted down off a Trott corner kick.
Those two scores made it 2-0 early, and they rode the momentum that came with their speedy defense closing gaps and stealing passes from the Rockets.
“It’s just the experience we have together,” said Concord junior defender Javier Ortiz. “We’ve played together for a while now. And our communication, we just trust each other. We have that bond as a defense.”
Even with all that pressure, the Rockets didn’t go away.
Though the Spiders kept possession of the ball for the majority of the first half, continuing their ball domination from Rounds 1 and 2, the Rockets were able to find a few runs late in the half to manufacture some scoring opportunities.
One of those few runs resulted in a free kick that was sent down the far side of the field before a few shakes through the Spiders defense led to a pass to Rockets freshman Moises Diaz for a strike to the back of the net, making it 2-1.
“The credit goes to Concord because they didn’t really give us time to set up or get going,” A.C. Reynolds coach Patrick Gladys said of the swarming Spiders defense.
Trott sent the teams to halftime when he sent a shot from the middle of the field through the Rockets’ backline, but the shot was easily caught by Morris in the box.
After the break, things were as they have been through most of the season, with the Spiders controlling the clock by holding the ball on their side of the ball and playing keep away from the Rockets.
Almost halfway through the second half, junior midfielder Steven Lozano nailed a goal to extend the Spiders’ lead to 3-1.
Even with the game in control and yet another strong defensive effort, things went to another level physically in the second half. The few shoves that came in the first half turned into much more and some exchanged dialogue in the second.
It didn’t really change anything in the game until the first yellow card was given out only three minutes into the second half.
It was given to junior Isaiah Clark and was the first of two for the Spiders. Lozano was also carded for the Spiders, with about 19 minutes remaining in the game.
Three yellow cards were handed to the Rockets, one to Evan Wortley with 28 minutes left, one to Luke Sloan 10 minutes later, and one given to Gladys that resulted in the final goal of the match.
That goal was a Trott penalty kick with a little more than 10 minutes left in the game. All of the chatter and yelling did little to distract Trott, as he nailed the goal easily with a smooth stroke to the left side of the net as the keeper dove right.
That goal made it 4-1 Spiders but doubled as the eighth goal of the postseason for Trott.
“I’m not going to complain, I’ve just stepped up and hit my shots,” said Trott. “In the beginning of the season, I wasn’t really hitting them, so I was frustrated. In this last (playoff) run, I know this is my last run, so I just try to give it my all.”