Gray Plays Hero Again in 1-0 Win

The Otters recorded their third win out of four at home this season with a 1-0 win over Wake FC, thanks to another Taylor Gray strike. The defense also recorded their second shutout of the season to keep the Otters moving up the table with another three points. The Otters remain in fifth but are just three points out of first place and have the most games left to play of all the teams in the division.

Unlike past games for the Otters, this game started off at a frenetic pace with both teams trading chances early on. Carlos Rubio (Lenoir-Rhyne) was asked to make a huge 1-v-1 save in the third minute to keep the game scoreless. He did, and that save moved him ahead of Torge Wiedenroth for the most career saves by an Otter, now having 60 for his career after recording three total last night.

The offense also started strong with Pol Vassart (Lees-McRae) and Freddy Tracey (Charleston) combining well up top to create chances all game. Both finished the game with four shots apiece.

The Otters appeared to get on the board first thanks to a Jack Burrows (Palm Beach Atlantic) rocket, but it was deemed he had fouled his defender to get open and the goal was disallowed.

After two early chances for Wake FC, the defense settled in and controlled the rest of the game. Merveil Bilomba (ETSU), George Stanley (Montreat), and Blake Barribeau (Palm Beach Atlantic) started their third consecutive game together on the backline, stopping most attacks and forcing Wake FC to play balls in that Rubio easily collected. The clean sheet was Rubio’s first ever in an Otters shirt.

Out on the wing, Alex Horveno (Lynn) and Taylor Gray (Reinhardt) continued to make defenders miserable, sending in cross after cross. In the 27th minute, Gray opted to do it himself, receiving a pass from Vassart, opening up some space and firing into the back of the net for his fourth goal in four games. His fourth goal is already tied for third-most in a season, and he is now third all-time in career goals.

The Otters continued to pour on the pressure searching for a second goal. Horveno had two shots in the first half go off the crossbar and post  and Oscar Perez (Wingate) had a missile just miss the top right corner off of a set piece. Despite the Otters efforts, they went into the half up 1-0 on Wake FC. On the night, the Otters recorded 19 shots as a team, their third most-ever in a game.

The second half was a similar story. Wake FC were able to possess the ball more, but the backline, aided by Matheus Tonon (Palm Beach Atlantic) and Perez, plus the defensive effort of the wingers, never allowed it to come to anything.

The Otters utilized their second half subs to help see off the clean sheet and secure three points. After Drew Fulmer (Palm Beach Atlantic) held off his defender to earn a corner, Burrows whipped a ball across the box to a lurking, unmarked James Scasserra (Palm Beach Atlantic) who couldn’t quite keep his shot down to ice the game. However, the final whistle blew moments later.

Two games at home next week on Tuesday and Saturday will give the Otters a chance to join the top teams on the table and make a statement to the division and the rest of the league. Both games will kickoff at 7 PM at Kermit-Tipton Stadium on the campus of Science Hill High School. Tickets can be purchased on the HappsNow app or website and remember all kids 16 and under are FREE! #FearTheFur

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