Bond’s late goal lifts Warren Central to playoff victory
Published 12:14 am Wednesday, February 7, 2024
When Warren Central was desperate and needed to get the job done, they called in their man Bond.
The sophomore headed in a corner kick for the go-ahead goal with less than three minutes left in regulation, and the Vikings hung on to beat Lake Cormorant 4-3 in the first round of the MHSAA Class 6A boys’ soccer playoffs on Tuesday.
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It was the second goal of the game for Bond, and his eighth of the season. Tyler Godshaw and Jonah Artman also scored for the Vikings, and Laney Lewis had two assists — including one on Bond’s game-winner.
“I come into every game knowing it’s 0-0. I love my teammates and, honestly, I go 100 percent every time. That’s how I score those headers,” Bond said. “I just know God is on my side every step of the way.”
Warren Central (15-4-1) advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2018. It will host Region 2-6A rival Neshoba Central (9-11-2) on Friday at 7 p.m.
Warren Central won both regular-season meetings with Neshoba, and is 6-0-1 since New Year’s.
Neshoba Central has won three games in a row after beating Saltillo 4-2 in its first-round game.
Although WC coach Greg Head was happy to advance, he acknowledged his team has plenty of things to clean up if they want to do it again. A pair of defensive breakdowns led to two goals by Lake Cormorant’s in the second half.
Luis Cano got behind the defense twice while long passes were played ahead to him, and he made quick moves in the open field both times to get clean shots on keeper Colby Solomon. Cano scored in the 55th and 66th minutes to erase a two-goal deficit and tie the game at 3.
Lake Cormorant’s Alassane Ba also scored on a penalty kick in the first half following a foul in the box. The three goals were among only a handful of scoring chances the Gators (7-11) had all night, but they cashed in all of them.
“I think we were the better team because we worked the ball well. It was just those stupid mistakes,” Head said. “They were pushing up too far, getting excited. Once you start dominating a little bit they get relaxed and next thing you know we were letting them blow right by us.”
Fortunately for the Vikings, Bond was able to bail them out.
Warren Central was awarded a corner kick in the 77th minute and Lewis sent it across the goal from right to left. Bond sneaked in on the back side of the defense and knocked the ball down with his head, sending it into the net on one bounce for a 4-3 lead.
“Laney always plays it backdoor and I’m always there. We have that chemistry, and every time I hit it in. I’ve got four or five goals off of headers,” Bond said. “It feels great. It feels like the world is on my side.”
Lake Cormorant had one more shot on goal in the final moments of the game, but Solomon made a relatively easy save to snuff it out.
Afterward, he and Charlie Esparza lifted Bond up on their shoulders and carried him to the postgame huddle.
Surviving their first-round test added another milestone to a remarkable season for the Vikings. They only won three games last season, but are now at 15 this year — and, more importantly, three victories away from a state championship.
“We still made it to the next round. Who knew we were going to go this far?” Head said. “At the first of the season we were picked to finish third in the district. We’re surprising a lot of people.”