Raiders March On

August 22, 2007 at 7:13 am Leave a comment

Don’t tell the Raiders it doesn’t matter. The boys from Belmont earned their first trip back into the Gazette Cup final in over 6 years with a 3-0 win over rival Ashbrook in last night’s action at Poston Park.

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(Benjamin Patton – Gazette Photo)

Part of the frustrating issue with this tournament is the legend and emotion that has built up over the history of the event. By making these early season matches a “top billing”, the rest of the matches lose some of their luster. A twenty game regular season, and hopefully state playoffs await these young players — for all the Big South Conference teams.

This year’s final on Saturday at Poston Park will be a breakthrough event. The Red Raiders wait to see who wins between Forestview and East Gaston who play tonight. The losing team will meet Ashbrook at 4:00 PM on Saturday in the third place match.  

The Ashbrook tussle had all the elements of playoff intensity — hard tackles, referee-inspired touch fouls, great crossing passes and exciting near misses by both teams. This match included a send off of one of the SP seniors, Matt Crane, for a second caution in the first half. Kevin Haskins earned a hat-trick by recording all three goals for Belmont. This increased his tally to seven for the season which extends into November. Haskins scored 38 goals last season, which has to be some kind of record.

Sophomores and juniors helped the team make a run after Crane’s send off.

In HS soccer, teams are allowed to replace a player after this type of  red card (called a disqualification). In USSF /FIFA, the second caution would have earned Crane a spot on the bench for the final and SP playing a man down for the second half of last night’s match.

Sophomore, Ryan Stephens replaced Crane in the midfield, while senior Cameron Matthews moved up from his normal defender slot to the wing. Junior Nathan Kelly filled the right wing and senior CJ Carswell was pushed up top as a third striker with Haskins and Tyler Martin. 

Midfielder and captain Will Harbin drew a yellow card in the second half resulting in a breath-holding contest by SP fans until he was allowed to return. Again, the rules in HS are different from the more familiar Laws of The Game (LOTG). Players must be substituted until the next stoppage of play.

Cameron Matthews and Ryan Anderson had several exciting moments getting off shots that just missed the mark. CJ Carswell and Tyler Martin also had near misses. Ashbrook kept SP keeper Case Gadd on his toes all evening with shots from the left, right, and center. The Raiders will have to tighten down the middle to be more effective defensively as the season progresses.

All of Belmont should take the opportunity to watch the soccer boys this season. The next match, Saturday at 6:00 PM, Poston Park, will be a good one to see for the whole family.

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Entry filed under: Belmont, Front Porch, Gaston Gazette, Gastonia Gazette, HS Soccer, HS Sports, NC Soccer Forum, Small Town, Soccer, South Point, South Point HS, Sports, Youth Sports.

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