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No. 1 Salisbury turns back Lexington

Lexington’s Luis Sandoval heads the ball as Emmy Turcios defends during their match on Wednesday at Ludwig Stadium in Salisbury.

SALISBURY | Lexington nearly pulled off a major upset the first time the Yellow Jackets played Salisbury, the state’s No. 1-ranked 2-A team, back on Sept. 23 at Philpott Memorial Stadium.

And when Rodolfo Ramos stunned the Hornets with a goal barely over a minute into their Central Carolina Conference match on Wednesday at Ludwig Stadium, maybe, just maybe it was going to be Lexington’s night.

But, alas, reality set in as Bobby Cardelle scored a pair of goals to lead Salisbury to a 5-2 win.

Salisbury led 5-2 in the first game only to see Lexington storm back to tie it. The Hornets scored with 11 seconds remaining in regulation to escape with a win.

“I almost reset the scenario again,” said Lexington coach Tim DeZego. “They did the same thing they did the last time. We tried to strike back and get closer but we just couldn’t do it.”

Not that Salisbury coach Matt Parrish was resting easy. He was concerned.

“We had to stay true to what we were working on,” Parrish said. “We couldn’t let it get to the point where we needed some last-second heroics.”

The Hornets (17-1 overall, 7-0 CCC) unleashed a wide array of weapons on Lexington. Emmy Turcios, Lucas Capito and Zack Sukkasem each tallied a goal for the Hornets. Turcios and Cardelle were particularly hard for the Jackets to mark. So was Clint Comadoll, who doubles as a middle linebacker for the Salisbury football team.

“They’re big, strong, fast and good,” said DeZego, whose team fell to 7-8-2 overall and 4-3 in the CCC. “I give them a lot of credit. They played their game and it worked for them. For some reason, we couldn’t get our second wind going.”

Play was intense, with each team drawing two yellow cards.

Lexington let Salisbury know it was in for another tough battle when Griffin Gray, running in the middle of the field, threaded a pass to Ramos out on the left wing. Ramos, kicking from an extreme angle, somehow managed to curl a shot over Salisbury keeper Max Fisher to the far post for a stunning 1-0 lead just 1:13 into the match.

Salisbury wasn’t long in fighting back. The Hornets had a potential goal waved off because they were offside but Capito evened the match in the ninth minute off a feed from Turcios.

Lexington keeper Rey Cuanas, who was credited with 15 saves, made a couple of difficult stops as the Hornets kept getting corner kicks and throw-ins. But the Hornets finally went ahead 2-1 in the 26th minute when Cardelle flicked a pass to wide open Turcios, who found the back of the net from 20 yards.

The Jackets seemed poised to tie the match in the 36th minute when Patrick DeZego split a pair of Salisbury defenders but John Canipe was able to stop him.

Salisbury kept up the pressure early in the second half when Cardelle scored with an assist from Canipe. Less than a minute later, Sukkasem tallied a highlight reel goal. At first, he was thwarted by Randy Rodriguez’s slide tackle but Sukkasem persisted, maneuvered around a couple of defenders into the box and slid the ball past Cuanas for a 4-1 lead.

The Jackets had clearly lost the momentum but Eric Rodriguez scored in the 71st minute. Moments later, Gray stripped the ball from Turcios and led a counterattack. With more players forward, the Jackets made a push and, yes, Parrish was worried.

“Gray, DeZego, Ramos, they were giving us a hard time,” Parrish said. “You have to stay on this team and not let them think they are still in it.”

The Jackets were not able to score again and Cardelle added an insurance goal in the 74th minute, finishing Sukkasem’s corner kick.

“That was a big goal,” Parrish said.

This time there wouldn’t be a rally from a 5-2 hole by what is still a much improved Lexington team.

“We were just back on our heels for about 10-15 minutes,” coach DeZego said.

And Parrish was glad.

“Much respect to coach DeZego,” Parrish said. “His kid and Griffin Gray, who came off, I think an ACL two years ago ... what he has done and what (assistant) coach (Tom) Jackson has done with their program is not only commendable and honorable, it’s something that as a competitor, I’ve enjoyed watching. I have much respect for both of those guys.”

Lexington hosts West Davidson on Monday.

Mike Duprez can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 218 or