SEVEN SPRINGS - You can’t keep a good offense down.
Held scoreless for nearly 38 minutes, Spring Creek notched a goal just before halftime that boosted its badly-shaken confidence after it suffered a devastating road defeat Monday.
The renewed swagger revived the Gators’ energy and provided the springboard to a 2-1 conquest of annual East Central 2A powerhouse Wallace-Rose Hill at “The Swamp” on Tuesday evening.
Spring Creek earned its first-ever, season sweep of the Bulldogs.
“Credit to Wallace, they made it tough on us,” said Gators head coach Miguel Torres, whose team topped the Bulldogs 6-2 just 10 days ago in Teachey.
“They made an adjustment, were better defensively. We knew if we played our game, we were going to be fine.”
Wallace-Rose Hill controlled the opening kickoff and dictated the pace during the opening 10 minutes. The Bulldogs’ midfield worked the ball side to side and consistently made runs in an attempt to weaken the Gators’ defense.
The strategy paid off in the eighth minute.
Junior striker Marlon Marquez gathered a loose ball at the midfield circle, dribbled a few yards unmarked into SC territory and ripped a long ball toward goal. The 30-yard blast settled into the net for a 1-0 advantage.
The Gators (4-5-0 overall, 4-5-0 EC) stayed with their normal blueprint-type offense - build from the attack and find an open seam. Though the Bulldogs paid close attention to leading scorer Josue Sanchez-Inestroza, he managed to get touches due to his teammates’ work rate.
SC came up empty on two set pieces and Bulldogs keeper Andy Argueta managed to keep a clean sheet.
Until the 38th minute.
The Gators pushed the ball into the 18-yard box and a shot attempt deflected off a Bulldog defender. Inestroza, unmarked at the left post, tapped it in for the 1-1 tie.
“It was vital to get a goal before halftime. It helped the boys settle down, knowing we were OK,” Torres said. “Even if it had been 1-0, we were still OK. I didn’t want them to panic, didn’t want them to think the game was over. We told them to settle down, work hard with possession and that showed up in the second half.”
In the 61st minute, SC struck again.
Adrian Tavrera attempted a corner kick that deflected off the Bulldogs again. Inestroza managed to get his right boot on the ball and supply his second goal of the night.
“[A] good play between Adrian and Josue,” said Torres, whose team averages 3.2 goals a game - second-best only to league-leading James Kenan.
“Josue has been in the right place at the right time a majority of the season. He just has a knack to find the back of the net. It helped us to settle into the game, control the game, possess the game.”
And keep the Gators in the playoff hunt.
Spring Creek is one-half game ahead of East Duplin in the standings with Thursday’s regular-season finale against Kenan on the horizon.