LAURINBURG — After graduating several key players from last year’s squad, the Scotland boys’ soccer team is still searching for an identity.
They played a Cape Fear program in the season opener Monday night that already knows how to win, as the Colts tallied 16 victories last year en route to a second-round appearance in the NCHSAA 4A playoffs.
The Colts showcased just how far the Scots’ youth has to go, defeating the host team 9-0 in a game that was called with five minutes remaining.
“We have a lot of underclassmen that are looking to step up and play a lot of minutes and they’re trying to fill the hole of a Daniel Williams or a Kytel (Collins-Jackson), which are huge holes,” Scotland coach Danny Gallagher said after the defeat.
Cape Fear ran around and through the Scotland defense to pull away in the second half after the Scots held the Colts to two goals in the opening 40 minutes.
“I’m really proud of them, we have a really young team,” Cape Fear coach Sara Bandurraga said. “If feels good, I love starting out the season 9-0. Who wouldn’t?”
Rafael Ramos notched a hat trick in the win, and six different Colts scored at least one goal. Jacob Brewington tacked on three assists and was the catalyst in setting up most of Cape Fear’s offensive opportunities.
Ramos opened the game with a goal in the first seven minutes to give the Colts a 1-0 advantage, but Scotland kept Cape Fear off the scoreboard for a 25-minute stretch after that thanks in large part to the play of goalkeeper Malcom Ford. Ford, who is playing the position out of necessity for the Scots, flashed his athleticism by blocking several of Cape Fear’s shots on target.
“He did well — that’s not his primary position, he’s filling in,” Gallagher said. “He’s a good shot-stopper, and he’s good with his feet. If I can get him now where he’s able to come out and give us almost an extra field player, where we can pass it back to him. There were a few times where the boys were looking to pass it back to him and he was hesitant because of a lack of opportunity to practice in goal.”
He also kept a Andrew Goncharov penalty kick out of the net at the 18:30 mark to keep the Scots in the game, but the Colts got back on the board with a goal by Simon Kalemba with 8:37 left in the half.
Gallagher said there were spurts of “positive” play by his players in the opening half, but Cape Fear opened the floodgates after the break, scoring three goals in a nine-minute span to put the game out of reach.
Goncharov made up for his earlier miss, heading the ball into the net with 36:27 remaining. Two minutes later Carmen Serbio got into the box score with a header off a deflection, then at the 31:44 mark, Connor Gaither scored on a well-placed corner kick to give the Colts a 5-0 advantage.
A number of key defensive mistakes by Scotland’s backline allowed Ramos to tack on two more goals in a four-minute period, then Kory Hussey outran his man on a through-ball and booted it past Ford to put the Colts up 8-0 with 7:30 remaining.
Benjamin Elliot scored the decisive goal moments later to seal the Cape Fear win.
Gallagher said he hopes his team can flush this defeat quickly, as Scotland welcomes Pine Forest to Laurinburg today.
“We’ll play with a lot more pride and hope that we can walk off the field with our head up and have a lot more positives.”
Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13.