Warriors make a statement

Published 11:02 pm Thursday, May 8, 2014

Nansemond River High School sophomore Brayan Morales fires off a shot during the Warriors' last-minute 3-2 home loss to Hickory High School on Wednesday.

Nansemond River High School sophomore Brayan Morales fires off a shot during the Warriors’ last-minute 3-2 home loss to Hickory High School on Wednesday.

Without question, the Nansemond River High School boys’ soccer team would have preferred getting a win on Wednesday against visiting Hickory High School, one of the top teams in the area. Nevertheless, the way the Warriors lost sent a message – Nansemond River has improved and is not to be taken lightly.

“I walked away proud of the way my guys played,” NR head coach Dustin Tordoff said. “Hickory was a team that beat us 7-1 last year.”

This year, the teams appeared far more evenly matched. The Hawks took an early 1-0 lead in the first half. The Warriors nearly responded on the first drive after that, as the teams traded opportunities. Hickory made it 2-0 in the second half.

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“Then Gabe (Everette) went on fire and scored twice,” tying the game, Tordoff said.

The first goal came off a well-played ball from sophomore Maliq Webster. About 10 minutes later, the second score came when Everette, a senior, intercepted a Hawks pass by its goalie, catching the keeper out of position. Everette chipped it over him from about 25 yards out, Tordoff said.

Overtime seemed a distinct possibility, but Nansemond River gave up a goal in the last minute of regulation, leading to a 3-2 final score.

“It was a 50-50 ball gone wrong,” Tordoff said of the deciding goal. His goalkeeper, junior Tommy Lowry, ran out, anticipating the ball was going to bounce forward into the box for him to grab, but it bounced up instead. Then, a Hawks player, in full stride, kicked it into the open net.

Despite the loss, Tordoff was pleased with his team’s resolve and all-out effort in the face of a 2-0 deficit.

“That’s exactly what you want as a coach,” he said, adding the Warriors proved “we’re going to give you our best shot.”

Aside from Everette, Tordoff cited standouts including sophomore Ty Williams, a midfielder who played a defensive role in slowing the progression of Hickory’s formidable seven-man attack. That is four or five more players than most teams send to strike.

The Hawks like to attack from the outside, but found that difficult, prompting the coach to praise junior Austin Heyman. “He controlled an entire side of the field, same as Maliq,” Tordoff said.

Also helping Nansemond River hold its own were freshman Jacob Baker, sophomore Brandon Dowden and junior Justin Naylor.

“Everyone on the team played well,” Tordoff said.

The Warriors were coming off a 3-2 home win on Tuesday against Denbigh High School. Williams scored the game winner in that contest with four minutes remaining, while sophomores Daniel Tallarico and Brayan Morales provided the other goals. Everette had two assists and sophomore Yousef Al-Sarraf had one.

Nansemond River (7-4, 3-0) hosts Tabb High School tonight.