Host Neuqua Valley and Metea Valley each won a half of Thursday afternoon's Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division boys soccer game.
But it was the Wildcats' performance in the first half that put them over the top in a 2-1 victory that put them at 4-0 in the UEC Valley and 7-5 overall. Neuqua has won six of its last seven games and four straight.
"I have to give the kids a lot of credit," said Neuqua coach Skip Begley of his team's success. "I thought we played very well in the first half. Metea has some nice players. I thought we handled it pretty well after Metea got their goal. Metea got back in it and they put on some excellent pressure."
The Mustangs (5-5-2, 1-3) got on the scoreboard with 27:03 left in the game. Chris Freeman sprinted along the far side of the field and slipped a perfect cross to Dakota Rowsey, who had an unobstructed view of Neuqua goalkeeper Zack Goldstein and unleased a 20-yard shot into the net to make it a 2-1 game.
About seven minutes earlier, the exact same play had occurred, forcing Goldstein to make a leaping save.
Metea also went into the contest having won five of its last six games. Mustangs coach Josh Robinson said consistent play has been crucial to Metea's recent success, something that was missing Thursday.
"During the first half we struggled to get it going. The second half was the best we've played. I think giving up those two goals early was the big thing. There's a lot of season left and we're playing some good soccer."
Neuqua struck first with 29:45 left until halftime, when Jim Kotowski headed in a Xavier Ortiz pass from about 15 yards out.
Just over 20 minutes later, Eduardo Cruz made it 2-0 with an assist from Munashe Nyamunduru.
"Once I saw Munashe, I knew he was going to cross it in to me," Cruz said.
As Neuqua goes further into its UEC Valley slate of games, Cruz said every moment is critical for the Wildcats.
"Being undefeated in conference, we have to win every ball. It could be a goal for us," he said.
Metea's best scoring chance of the first half came on a corner kick that forced Goldstein to leap in a crowd of players to bat it away.
Gabe Gongora-Falla made 5 saves in net for Metea. His best save of the afternoon came with just more than 29 minutes to play when he had to grab a Matt Lyon corner kick in a crowd in front of the net.