The rain held off in the beginning of the game at Blue Ridge Early College on Monday, but the players still took some time to get into their groove. Going into the second half tied at 1-1, Blue Ridge Early College varsity soccer team stepped it up to defeat Highlands 3-2.
“Both teams played well,” said Blue Ridge Head Coach Nick Pressler. “But for us today everybody did their job, we played with integrity and heart, and no one gave up.”
Pressler began the second half by moving senior Levi Taylor from goalie to offense and replaced him with freshman Michael Martinez, who faced two penalty kicks in the first couple of minutes. Taylor scored a goal while on offense.
“He (Martinez) did a great job in the goal,” said Blue Ridge sophomore Jacob Pressler. “He stepped up and helped out the whole team.”
Jacob collided with Highlands player Jake Billingsley and ended up doing a flip in midair, the referee’s call was against Blue Ridge.
“I didn’t want to land on my neck,” said Jacob. “I guess I bit my cheek and couldn’t feel my right arm. Then I saw tons of blood and thought, what’s going on. But I’m all good now.”
Highlands had victory in their sights and never quit until the whistle blew.
“Near the end they were wasting time,” said Highlands senior Caden Smolarsky. “Then we were trying to rush it, but we still needed to take our time and keep our heads, but we couldn’t do that.”
Highlands senior Carson Talbert said they got the ball everywhere it was supposed to be except in the back of the net.
“We had a lot of chances, but it’s just how the game goes,” said Talbert. “They got a couple chances and they finished.”
Fans of both teams had issues with several of the calls made by the referees. Blue Ridge junior Colton Taylor said he has seen worse and you just have to deal with it.
“There were some bad calls, it wasn’t very good,” said Taylor. “But we had a good game and we like it when it gets physical, it makes it more fun.”
Highlands senior Hunter Collins was back on his old stomping grounds as a former student of BREC. He said he just stayed focused on the game and didn’t let his return as a Highlander get to him.
“It’s just another competition like everything else,” said Collins. “It didn’t bother me one bit. I just wish we could have put the ball in the back of net more.”
Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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