By Jerry Holsworth - firstname.lastname@example.org
STRASBURG -- Although both teams came into Friday's boys soccer match with an unblemished record, Stonewall Jackson has a tradition of handling Strasburg easily.
The Rams, however, let the Generals know very early in the game that this wasn't going to be business as usual.
Strasburg Nika Kartvelishvili sent a curving ball from 35 yards out over Stonewall goalkeeper Haydenn Miller's head in the first minute of play to give the Rams a stunning 1-0 lead.
"We started the game aggressively and we started it strong," Strasburg coach Joel Ross said. "Nika just hit the ball perfectly. It was an amazing goal. I think that really made them mad."
The Generals were able to recover and take the win 6-2, but the Rams certainly got Stonewall's attention.
"I thought that it was going to be an interesting game after that," Generals coach Nate Hissong said. "We have a lot more seniors than they do and we're more experienced. But you have to give Strasburg a lot of credit."
Stonewall responded by pressing hard for the equalizer, outshooting the Rams 21-4 in the first half. For nearly 30 minutes, however, the Rams were able to hold them off.
A mistake in the penalty area finally gave the Generals the break they needed to knot the score. With 11:18 left in the first half, Rams fullback Gunnar Bowes committed a hand ball.
Juan Luna had little trouble smashing the resulting penalty kick past Strasburg goalkeeper Daniel Wilson to tie the score 1-1.
The General finally took the lead 2-1 late in the half on a shot by Caleb Golladay from point-blank range after a cross from Patrick Bain.
"I think that they played a better passing game than we did," Ross said. "They were able to control the ball for most of the game. That had an effect on our intensity and was somewhat demoralizing."
The Rams seemed to recover very quickly after halftime, though. Strasburg's Jordan Bowes drove straight through the Generals' defense to score on a breakaway just 15 seconds into the second half to tie the score, 2-2.
"Stonewall usually beats us pretty handily," Ross said. "But we played them with a lot more intensity than we have in the past. They took the lead late in the first half, and we tied it back up just as quickly."
After Strasburg's early second-half goal, the Generals took complete control of the game, getting four straight goals to seal the win.
Juan Flores put Stonewall back ahead just three minutes after Bowes' goal on a shot from 15 yards out. The Stonewall senior scored again with 21 minutes left in the game from left wing.
Jose Garcia and Bain got the other two goals for the Generals. Garcia scored off a cross from Golladay with 21 minutes left in the game, and Bain finished the scoring for the Generals with a direct free kick from five yards outside the penalty area.
"Our team this year is very different than the teams we've had in the past," Ross said. "We scored more goals on Stonewall than Clarke County did last night. We're not taking any defeat lightly, but there were a lot of positives in this game for us."