Triton’s varsity boys soccer team wrapped up the regular season by winning, 4-0, at Tri-County Six 3-A Conference and Harnett County rival Harnett Central on Wednesday night, potentially securing a bid to the NCHSAA 3-A state playoffs.
“We talked beforehand that it’s basically math, but we definitely wouldn’t be in if we lost,” said Triton coach Brian Foster. “It’s tough when you’re playing a rival team and we beat them the last time, so they wanted to be hungry. But we had to be patient. We had to actually play our brand of soccer and share the ball a little bit. We played well and had a couple of chances early, but once we broke through and scored one, we sort of relaxed a little bit and the soccer got a lot better.”
Triton (8-2, 6-2 TCSC) got one goal apiece from seniors Merced Mendez and Carson Smith and juniors Benny Villalvazo and Geovany Rodela. Villalvazo, senior Scott Martinez and senior Mario Purata Aguillon had one assist apiece for the Hawks.
Senior goalie Logan Pope recorded the shutout.
Foster was pleased that he was able to get everyone on the team some playing time and they all contributed something in the win.
“We were able to get everybody out there on the field,” Foster said. “We got a goal from a normal fullback. Lots of hard work out of everybody. We got to run some guys ragged that don’t get a chance to play as much as they probably would on another team. And it just makes me feel good that they’re supporting each other all the way up to the very end.”
The Trojans (0-9, 0-8) denied several early scoring opportunities for the Hawks, but Triton finally broke through with 15:21 remaining in the first half when Mendez scored on an assist from Villalvazo, the same combination that started the scoring for Triton in Monday’s win over Union Pines.
“Watching those two work together, they seem to each know where the other is and all of a sudden they can just flip it like a switch,” Foster said. “Hopefully we’ll get at least one more chance to see them play together.”
Triton’s second goal came with 8:16 left in the first half. With several players battling for possession near Central’s net, Rodela came away with the ball and found the back of the net to make it 2-0.
Triton scored again just before halftime. After gathering up a loose ball, Pope punted the ball down the field. Martinez used a header to relay the ball to Villalvazo, who sent a blistering shot past the keeper and into the net to make it 3-0 with 1:12 remaining in the half.
Triton’s last goal came early in the second half. Aguillon drew the keeper’s attention on the left side and sent a cross to Smith, who booted it into the net for a 4-0 lead with 37:08 left in the second half.
Foster hoped Wednesday’s win was enough to earn Triton a playoff bid, but the Hawks will have to wait until the NCHSAA releases the brackets on Saturday to find out if they made the postseason.
“I probably will sleep sometime Saturday night whenever I find out what’s going on,” Foster said. “We should be good. We’ve only lost to one team (unbeaten Southern Lee). I think we deserve to be in the playoffs. But, it’s a crazy year and some teams aren’t even getting the opportunity, so we’re grateful for every little thing.
“The season’s turned out far better than I expected, but this was the kind of team that didn’t need a whole lot of coaching and run up. They were able to get in where we were able to put them into the positions that we think they would do the best and they were able to do the things that they needed to do and that’s what’s gotten us to this point in the season.”