Midway showed flashes of its early season form, but the long layoff from Hurricane Florence in addition to several untimely injuries overshadowed those flashes in Monday’s 5-1 loss to Wallace-Rose Hill.
Wallace-Rose Hill can be a tough matchup for any team. The Bulldogs won three consecutive 1A State Championships from 2014 to 2016, and last season finished tied for second in their first year in the East Central 2A Conference. Adding the loss of three players to concussions and having to start a backup goalkeeper to that challenge proved to be insurmountable for the Raiders.
“We just did not play our best game,” Midway head coach James O’Brien said. “We didn’t play a ‘Midway’ game. We didn’t cross — they were fast, but we just didn’t connect where we should have connected. We’ve got to come back and regroup, and come out strong. We’ve still got a lot of season to go.”
Both teams created early chances in the first half, but Midway actually struck first when junior defender Garrett Butler connected on a header off a corner kick from senior attacking midfielder Gianfranco Lopez. The Raiders went up 1-0 with 23:36 remaining in the half.
Wallace-Rose Hill equalized eight minutes later on a counter attack and then took the lead on a goal by Josue Palacios with 12:48. The Bulldogs struck the cross bar a couple of times, but Midway escaped into the second half only down a goal.
The Raiders applied high pressure early in the second half and nearly picked off a pass to the Bulldogs’ goalie. However, Midway was unable to force any mistakes from Wallace-Rose Hill’s midfield, and the game soon turned into a track meet. The Bulldogs created chance after chance on the counter attack and finally broke through 13 minutes into the second half on a run down the left wing by Anthony Sanchez. They scored again a few minutes later on a stunning strike by Alex Caballero from more than 30 yards out to make it 4-1. The final goal again came on a counter down the left flank by Jeremy Sanchez.
Things don’t get any easier for Midway as they’ll face current East Central Conference leader Clinton (12-1, 4-1) today.
“We’ve just got to get back to playing the way we were at the first of the season,” O’Brien said. “We started out 5-0, we just need to get back to the way we were playing, get our legs back underneath us and get back in shape.”