By Bob Sutton
Special to The Alamance News
One of the best boys’ soccer teams in the state needed to do something it hadn’t done all season, and Williams was up to the task Thursday night.
The Bulldogs rallied to win a game.
“It was a fun game,” Williams goalkeeper Ian Kirk said. “Most players play to be in the tough situations. It gives you an opportunity to show what you’ve got.”
By scoring two second-half goals, the Bulldogs defeated visiting Southern Durham in the Class 3-A second-round game of the state playoffs at Burlington Memorial Stadium.
Because of the result, Williams (20-1-2), which is the top seed in the East Region, advances to a third-round game against eighth-seeded Jacksonville (15-7-2) on Monday night or Tuesday night at home.
Max Sommer and Tyler Thompson scored the Williams goals.
For Thompson, his marker with 5:39 remaining gave the senior his first career game-winning goal.
“It kept us alive,” he said.
See story on Tyler Thompson in this week’s (Nov. 3) edition of The Alamance News: https://alamancenews.com/bulldogs-count-on-thompsons-soccer-presence/
No. 17 seed Southern Durham (16-7) notched an early goal, and then frustrated Williams for the rest of the first half. The only other time the Bulldogs trailed this season came at Western Alamance, where they suffered their lone loss.
So it was a matter of regrouping at halftime.
“We knew they were coming and we went back to our game plan,” Sommer said.
Williams coach Jeremy Krist called the game “very eventful,” particularly considering his team hadn’t been scored on in its past four games.
“We just need to get one (goal) and maybe we’ll settle in,” Krist said. “That’s what our guys do, they’re grinders.”
Sommer struck slightly more than eight minutes into the second half. Jose Hernandez made a swift maneuver down the leftside and delivered the ball toward the front of the net. Sommer was there to score on a header.
It was Sommer’s team-leading 23rd goal of the season.
The winning goal followed a Southern Durham foul at midfield. Kirk came out of the box to deliver the free kick, sending it deep into the box. It bounced once before Thompson was there to knock it in off his head.
“Just put it away,” Thompson said of his objective. He has three of Williams’ six goals in the playoffs.
“Not something that happens every day,” Krist said of a header off a bouncing ball.
Kirk, a junior and a three-year starter, supplied his second career assist and first of the season. He plays center midfield for his club team, so he has taken those types of kicks before.
“I love those moments,” he said.
The game turned out to have significant moments for the Bulldogs.
“It’s survive and advance,” Sommer said.
Krist sensed there was value in how the Bulldogs achieved this result.
“Hopefully, we’re not down again,” he said. “But this is another thing we have (figured out). Now we’ve been in this situation and we can win a game.”
Jacksonville was a 9-2 second-round winner against Southern Lee.
Croatan 6, Western Alamance 2: At Newport, defending state champion Western was eliminated in the Class 3-A second round with the road loss to fourth-seeded Croatan (14-4-2). Last year’s team made a habit of postseason road conquests, but this season’s first road venture in the playoffs went awry.
No. 13 seed Western finished with a 15-5-2 record.
River Mill 2, North Duplin 1, 2OT: The fourth-seeded Jaguars allowed a first-half goal before tying it in the second half and winning in the second overtime session.
River Mill (18-5-1) will be home again against 12th-seeded East Wake Academy (12-8).