Unbeaten Rams blank Rockets

Unbeaten Rams blank Rockets

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Unbeaten Rams blank Rockets

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Roberson senior Austin Stamey did not have much room to create offense Thursday night.

The Appalachian State recruit was just fine in tight quarters.

Stamey’s header in a crowd at the 19:21 mark of the first half was all the visiting Rams needed to grab hold of an eventual 4-0 win over Reynolds at Dalton Stadium.

Former All-WNC defender Jonah Hodes added first-half goals on a free kick and penalty kick, allowing Roberson (16-0-2, 8-0-0) to remain the only undefeated boys soccer team in Western North Carolina.

“Reynolds is a great team, and they have some really strong forwards,” Hodes said.

“We all play club soccer together and know each other. It’s great for us to come over here against our rival and get a win like this.”

Thursday’s game between the top two teams in the Mountain Athletic Conference was originally scheduled for Sept. 25 but was postponed.

It was worth the wait for the Rams. They are No. 5 in this week’s N.C. Soccer Coaches Association 4-A poll, while the Rockets (15-4-0, 6-1-0) hold the same position in the 3-A state rankings.

Roberson’s first two goals were set up by Christian Gutierrez.

His corner kick put the ball inside the goal box where Stamey’s head found it after a Rockets deflection. Stamey was the 2012 Citizen-Times All-WNC Player of the Year. Thursday’s goal was his team-high 19th of the season.

Hodes kept everything organized in the back Thursday but also stepped up on set pieces.

Less than four minutes after Stamey’s goal, Hodes was called upon to take a free kick from about 25 yards out after Gutierrez was fouled just outside the 18-yard box.

Hodes angled the ball around Reynolds’ wall of defenders, which were standing the regulated 10 yards away. Hodes’ penalty kick came with 40.3 seconds left until halftime after Stamey was fouled on the left edge of the 18-yard box.

Roberson’s fourth and final score came on a Rockets’ own goal with 7:36 remaining in the game.

“I thought we came out in the first half and really took it to them,” Rams coach Rob Wilcher said. “We knew it was going to be a battle. Our defense is strong, and Kevin Rhash probably doesn’t get the credit he should as a goalkeeper.”

Hodes and Stamey are two of Roberson’s four captains along with junior defender Conner Cowan and Rhash, who is a senior.

Rhash made three saves Thursday. Eric Lenhart had seven for Reynolds, which was outshot, 15-7.

“Tonight was an absolute embarrassment,” Rockets coach Patrick Gladys said. “(Roberson) is a good team, and they deserve credit. But we provided no obstacle tonight. Sometimes it happens, and, unfortunately for us, it happened to us on the big stage.”

Roberson travels to Erwin on Monday, while Reynolds is at home against Enka.

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