CONCORD – The Concord boys soccer team, seeded second in the West Region of the Class 3A state playoffs, used a second-half surge to defeat Hickory St. Stephens, 5-0, in a first-round matchup at Robert C. Bailey Stadium Wednesday night.
Senior midfielder Carson Trott scored three goals in the second half to help Concord improve its record to 22-1-2 on the season. St. Stephens, which was seeded 31st, closes the season with a 7-11-2 mark.
The game was tied, 0-0, at halftime before the Spiders went on their five-goal run to reach the second round of the tournament, where they will play host to Gastonia Ashbrook on Saturday at 5 p.m.
“In the first half, the frustrating thing was not scoring,” said Spiders coach Todd Tinsley. “So going into the second half, we knew we’d get the opportunities.”
The Spiders were working early, keeping possession for most of the first half and getting some great looks at the goal. They had a few set-play opportunities as well, but they had their best flurry to end the half.
With around five minutes remaining in the first 40, the Spiders had possession and turned it into two corner kicks and two throw-ins before the break.
Although those opportunities didn’t end with scores, they were very telling of the ball domination Concord had in the first half.
“We apply pressure every game, so we were just going in and we didn’t finish our chances in the first half,” said Trott. “We came around to halftime, and we talked and we said, ‘We’re getting them; we just have to put them away.’ And our defense played great. We relied on (the defensive players) all season, and we just went out and stepped up and put (St. Stephens) away.”
Coming out of halftime, the Spiders maintained their possession dominance from the first half but capitalized on the opportunities St. Stephens gave them this time around.
“He doesn’t have to say much; it’s a playoff game,” Trott said on Tinsley’s halftime words. “We knew how important is was. We have a lot of experience.”
Only five minutes into the second half, the Spiders had already scored twice.
The first was a shot from right in front of the goal by Celso Quiterio with 37 minutes remaining in the game. The second goal, a ball sent by Trott, made it 2-0.
“I don’t know think it was one thing in particular,” said St. Stephens coach Roger Mueller said. “I think they got that one goal, and it kind of opened things up for them.”
That was just the start, as a penalty kick gave another scoring opportunity. He drained that with 30 minutes left in the game, and Carlos Alvarez scored four minutes later to make it 4-0, Spiders.
Another Trott goal came with 16 minutes left on the clock. That gave the Spiders a 5-0 lead, Trott a hat trick and allowed the Spiders to pull starters to preserve health for their second-round game.
The only low spot of the night for the Spiders came when Alvarez pushed a St. Stephens player and was awarded a red card with a little more than nine minutes left. That penalty got him removed for the rest of the game.