The Gordon Central boys waited for their chance, and once it came, they made the most of it.
That’s the way their rematch with Pepperell on Friday could be described in a couple ways. The Warriors waited for their chance to avenge a loss earlier in the season, and they waited patiently to hit the Dragons on a counter as they earned a 1-0 victory over their Region 7-AA foes.
Gordon Central (5-2, 3-1 in 7-AA) played solid defense all night against the Dragons and made a run up the field count shortly into the second half as Alfredo Pegueros gathered a loose ball in the box and deposited it into the back of the net for the lone and deciding goal in the 47th minute. The goal came shortly after a free kick was awarded to the Warriors that came as the result of a quick change of possession near midfield.
Gordon Central coach Matt Wiley said the win was an important one in the region standings and a testament to how much his team has worked and improved following their loss at Pepperell on Feb. 20.
“This win definitely puts us in the top four in the region and right there with any of the other top teams,” said Wiley. “I think our loss to them a couple weeks ago humbled us a bit and exposed what we needed to work on and made adjustments to. Our guys knew they had to get better after that loss, and they showed tonight how much they wanted to work to do that. This is a big win, and hopefully it sets the tone for the rest of the region schedule.
“Pepperell is very good defensively and passing the ball. We wanted to keep our guys back and clog up the midfield. They did a good job of boxing in Jonny (Rivas) out front for us, but we got that chance to score at the beginning of the second half, and (Alfredo) put it in there.”
Pepperell (5-4, 5-2) had many chances of their own in the second half especially late in the game, but the Gordon Central defense rose to the challenge each time they were tested. Warriors’ goalkeeper Brent Silvar had a stellar game as he preserved the shutout by making several impressive saves, and the defense in front of him stopped several scoring opportunities before they happened with good communication and instincts.
“We have to thank our defense tonight,” said Wiley. “We were really good at ball clearance tonight. Our guys got tested, but they rallied back every time to make it hard on Pepperell. Brent was amazing in goal again tonight. He does a great job back there, and our guys communicate in front of him.
Rivas and Wilson Falla each had shots on goal in the second half for Gordon Central, but they were both saved by Pepperell goalkeeper Andrew Wilder. Pepperell kept pushing the ball up the field late and had multiple corner kicks and free kicks close to the box in the final 20 minutes of the contest, but the Warriors’ defense rose to the occasion each time.
Wiley said he wants his team to take pride in this win but continue to stay hungry as the tough region schedule continues.
“We don’t want to get to cocky or comfortable after this win,” said Wiley. “We’ve got some tough games this coming week against Armuchee and Model at home. We’ve split the series with Pepperell now, but we have a lot of the schedule still in front of us, and we have to take care of our home matches especially. I feel good about where we are right now, but we’ve got to keep working and getting better.”
The Warriors are back home on Tuesday to host Armuchee. They will host Model on Thursday at 7 p.m.
In the Gordon Central-Pepperell girls game earlier on Friday:
Gordon Central girls 4, Pepperell 1
The Lady Warriors had a big second half led by Emily Salazar as they pulled away for a region win at home on Friday.
Gordon Central (1-6, 1-3 in 7-AA) scored a goal in the 33rd minute off the foot of Jennifer Gutierrez to take a 1-0 lead into the half. Emily Salazar took over in the second half, recording a hat trick with goals in the 47th, 54th and 56th minute to put the game away.
“Our girls have been down after some tough losses to start the season, and the needed to get a win to gain some confidence,” said Gordon Central coach Matt Wiley. “Once they scored the first goal, I think that helped them get their confidence going today, and we were able to dominate the second half.”
Pepperell’s only goal came in the 50th minute from Jasmin Martinez-Soto.
Gordon Central is back at home on Tuesday to host Armuchee. They will host Model on Thursday at 5 p.m.