Keith Gedamke / The Item
Conway's Dan Little (11) controls the ball while battling with Sumter's Brogden Butler in the Gamecocks' 2-1 win Friday at the SHS field.
By PATRICK ENZOR
Item Sports Writer
Sumter High School's varsity boys soccer team made it hard on itself Friday at the SHS soccer field.
With a strong wind pinning down the team defending the south end of the field, Sumter failed to score with the wind at its back but scored two late goals to come away with a 2-1 win over Conway in its Region VI-4A opener.
Sumter missed several opportunities to grab a quick lead with the wind at its back. However, it was Conway who had the first scoring opportunity.
Conway's Addam Myers had a breakaway on Sumter's goal just two minutes into the game. Sumter goalie Clinton Hall made a diving stop to keep the Tigers off the board.
Sumter head coach Damon Hubert was more disappointed in his team's play than its missed opportunities. He felt the wind didn't play that big of a role.
"I was more disappointed with the quality of play," said Hubert, whose team improved to 6-1 overall. "We didn't play well at all tonight and wind is no factor in that. I told the kids at halftime that if they continued to play that way that we were going to struggle. They continued to play that way and we struggled."
The rest of the half was spent in the Gamecocks' offensive half of the field. Any attempt by Conway to clear the ball was pushed back by the wind. The Tiger defense held tough and kept Sumter out of the net for the first 40 minutes.
"If we knock it (the ball) around at our feet and possess the ball, we should score five or six goals against a team like that," Hubert said. "We decided to play to their strengths and not the quality of soccer we are used to playing."
After halftime, Conway wasted no time in going to work. An injury to Hall forced him out of the game and Daniel Brown took his place in the net in the first minute of the second half. A minute later, Kyle Hendrick was able to get a ball over Brown's head for the first goal of the match.
It looked as if the lead would hold as Sumter had to contend not only with the Tigers, but the dreadful wind as well. Brian Przybyla found a way to cheat the wind and broke away from the pack from around 40 yards out and scored to tie the game in the 26th minute.
The Gamecocks caught a break when Conway's Kelly Hendrick received a red card, which gave Sumter a 1-man advantage, in the 27th minute. Five minutes later, Przybyla found himself on another breakaway, but got under his shot as it sailed just over the frame.
No matter. With three minutes left, Przybyla found the ball at his feet again around the top of the box and found a streaking Scott Addey to the right. Addey snuck behind the marking backs and scored the game-winner into the side netting.
"I told the guys after the game that if they come away with at least something positive from this game it was that we found a way to win," Hubert said. "We scored when had to and we have been doing that all season. We always find a way to eke out some wins."
Sumter plays at Northwestern Monday at 8 p.m.