NEWBERRY — On Friday evening, the Newberry Bulldogs had more bite in them with their soccer game, defeating the Mid-Carolina Rebels in two boys varsity soccer contests.
The two county games showed the parity in Newberry County boys high school soccer this year.
MCHS and NHS squads battled their counterparts and the windy weather in the early spring match-up.
The Mid-Carolina JV’s brought a 2-0-1 record onto Mike Ware Field to face a 5-1 JV Bulldog squad.
The Rebels took advantage of the wind in the first half to keep the pressure on the Newberry defense.
The Mid-Carolina offense forced the action and came close to scoring on a couple of corner kicks, but the follow-up attempts went just wide of the goal or were absorbed by the Newberry keeper, resulting in a 0-0 half-time score.
At the start of the second half, the Bulldogs pressed the action on the north goal, coming close on several strikes and corner kicks, but the Rebel defense was able to force the shots high or wide.
Newberry was unable to capitalize until a Rebel defender committed a hand violation inside the box with 8:54 remaining.
On the resulting penalty kick, Lesandro “Chayo” Bautista was able to place the ball just past the Mid-Carolina keeper’s outstretched hands to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead. Newberry was able to stave off late attacks by the Rebels and hold on for the win.
The ensuing varsity game was representative of the physical battle fans have come to expect when these two teams face off, with both teams challenging for every long ball.
The aggressive play, as players attempted to gain position on goalie kicks and punts, resulted in yellow cards given to players on each side during mid-field battles.
The Bulldogs, with their ball-control style offense, were content to slowly work the ball down field, frequently using backward passes to set up plays.
Their methodical work paid off when, four minutes into the contest, a Bulldog player sent a touch pass from the center of the field to the left side where Joel Alvarez was able to place the ball in the north goal for a 1-0 lead with 35:48 remaining in the half.
Working to maintain that momentum, Newberry made it 2-0 with 31:52 in the half when Erick Arroyo took a header pass from a teammate and stuck the ball in the net. Neither team was able to score in the remainder of the half.
Mid-Carolina charged out in the second half using their speed and down-field attack offense to make several plays on the goal, but on several occasions the final pass down field was just out of reach of a Rebel forward.
The long passes were played by Bulldog keeper Alberto Rodriguez.
The two teams battled back and forth for the remainder of the half, and while each team was able to get close with long strikes and corner kicks, neither team was able to break through the other team’s defense for a score.
The Bulldogs left the field with a 2-0 victory and a record of 8-1. With the loss, the Rebels record dropped to 4-3.
The Bulldogs, currently ranked second in the state in AA soccer according to eurosport, will face sixth-ranked Saluda at home on Monday. The Rebels host Ninety Six at home on Tuesday.