ST. PAULS — In a close soccer match, the final score can sometimes be decided by a few plays that got away from a team.
On Wednesday, the St. Pauls boys soccer team had two critical miscues in the shadows of its own goal that led to Red Springs picking up the 2-1 Three Rivers Conference win that took the Bulldogs out of a tie for first place in the league.
The game-winning score for Red Springs (6-4) came from Juan Ineztrosa midway through the second half after St. Pauls (6-7) missed several chances to clear and secure the ball off a corner kick.
“My guys really need it (the win),” Red Springs coach William Garcia said. “We’re toward the bottom of the bracket and I told them these next games for the rest of the season, there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
Earlier in the game, the Red Devils took a 1-0 first-half lead as Bernie Pardon-Lopez scored on a rebound from a free kick shot on goal that the Bulldogs’ goalkeeper Eric Baltazar couldn’t trap.
“We’ve been talking about attacking the ball after a shot on goal to go for the rebounds,” Garcia said. “That’s the reason we made those goals today.”
“Every one of their finishes came inside the six-yard box,” St. Pauls coach Brent Martin said. “It’s just errors that come off set pieces or shots coming into the back post. It’s just goalkeeping errors.”
Red Springs was able to avenge a 4-2 loss to St. Pauls earlier in the season and reverse their fortune it had in recent meetings in the series.
“I knew they were going to play up because we had went over there and we had beat them five times out of six so I know they were tired of losing,” Martin said of Red Springs. “They played up to it, but I feel like we really beat ourselves more than they beat us.”
St. Pauls got on the board a little more than three minutes after the Pardon-Lopez goal with a goal from Shaquay Davis, who came in after the ball bounced out in front of the box on a corner kick.
“We had talked about him coming in from his deep position and getting rebounds,” Martin said of Davis.
Moving forward, Garcia hopes this can be a turning point for his team that started TRC play 1-4 entering Wednesday.
“I have great squad that’s deep in the bench and they just need to learn to play together and they’re finally getting there,” Garcia said.
St. Pauls takes on conference-leading Whiteville on Monday, and Red Springs travels to East Columbus.
Velasquez fuels Rams offense in loss to Scotland
PEMBROKE — The Scotland boys soccer team jumped out of an early hole to claim a 4-2 Southeastern Conference win over Purnell Swett on Wednesday.
Vidal Velasquez scored both goals for the Rams (2-10) and found the back of the net less than a minute into the game to go up 1-0. Scotland scored four unanswered goals before Velasquez tacked on another goal with two minutes to go.
In other SEC action, Lumberton and Pinecrest played an instant classic, resulting in a scoreless tie after a pair of overtime periods. The Pirates turn around to play Hoke this afternoon in Raeford.
Red Springs’ Bernie Pardon-Lopez takes his shot on goal following the defensive miscue from St. Pauls in the first half.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.