Photo and article from Laieke Abebe
In an electric atmosphere, Spring Creek battled all night with No. 2 Greene Central. Despite that, the Gators were not able to get over the hump on the road.
The Gators could not find their rhythm in a 4-2 overtime loss to the Rams Monday in Snow Hill. The loss eliminates Spring Creek from the N.C. High School Athletic Association 2A playoffs and ends their 14-game winning streak.
“We never really had control of the game,” Spring Creek head coach Miguel Torres said. “All the credit goes to Greene Central, and they’re one of the best teams in the state for a reason.”
Ariel Nunez found the back of the net with a long distance chip to make it 1-0. The Gators weren’t able to maintain a good spell of possession for the first 60 minutes of the match.
Spring Creek goalkeeper Isai Juarez-Pérez made a couple of key saves in the first half to keep the Gators close. Then, a missed defensive clearance by the Rams led to Spring Creek’s breakthrough.
Senior Jonah Velazquez sent the Spring Creek crowd into a frenzy when he ripped off a strike from 25 yards away to tie the match with seven minutes left in regulation. Suddenly, the momentum shifted in the final minutes, but nothing could break the deadlock.
The match would head to overtime, and Greene Central made its mark 80 seconds into the first extra period. Nunez found Nathan Drake to put the Rams back in front.
However, Spring Creek wouldn’t go away quietly, a staple of why the Gators were able to win the Neuse Six Conference title.
Senior defender Fernando Trejo played a long ball into the final third, the goalkeeper missed the clearance, and the ball trickled into the net to tie it at two.
Then, Nunez struck again for the Rams with two quick goals in succession to put the match out of reach for the Gators. Two of their three losses this season came at the hands of a Greene Central team that’s now 23-1 this season. Spring Creek finishes with a 16-3-1 record.
“I’m proud of the boys,” Torres added. “We fought hard to stay in the match and we accomplished a lot of goals that we set at the beginning of the season. I’m going to miss this senior group because they put it so much work to make us a great team.”