By Jerry Holsworth - firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- For 80 minutes, cross-town rivals Skyline and Warren County battled for dominance in boys soccer.
After an amazing number of spectacular saves by Hawks goalkeeper Justin Robinson, Warren County was able to sneak two past him to win, 2-0.
"This was just a great matchup between cross-town rivals," Wildcats coach Pam Cornell said. "Both teams gave everything they had and played extremely hard. I thought that it was going to be a very even game, and it sure turned out that way."
Through most of the game, it was a battle between Robinson and the Wildcats' front line, led by forward Brian Cornell. The Warren County senior had a double victory against Robinson, but it wasn't easy.
"It was really hard to get the ball past Justin [Robinson]," Brian Cornell said. "He kept them in the game. We just kept working hard for our shots and he kept making the save."
With neither side able to take control of the game, Brian Cornell and Robinson had a personal duel late in the first half that turned out to be the difference between victory and defeat.
With 10 minutes left in the first half, Brian Cornell got loose right in front of the Hawks' goal, but was unable to settle the ball in time to prevent Robinson from making the save.
Moments later he got another chance, but Robinson was again able to keep the ball out of the net. But with 8:53 left, Brian Cornell got a pass from Britt Cupp and beat the Skyline sweeper. This time he was able to nudge the ball past Robinson from point-blank range to put Warren County up, 1-0.
"I got a really good pass from Cupp and I got it past their sweeper," Brian Cornell said. "I was also finally able to get it past Justin. Those two near misses just made me more determined to get it in the net."
Brian Cornell's goal not only turned out to be the game-winner, but it also broke the school record for career goals. It was his 20th career goal, passing Jeff Moxie's 19.
"There are very few goals scored that don't start with a great pass from a teammate," Brian Cornell said. "I couldn't have done this without a lot of help from my teammates."
Robinson's performance was just as impressive as Brian Cornell's, though. The Wildcats outshot the Hawks 11-2 in the first half, and the Skyline junior made four difficult saves to hold the Warren County lead to just one goal.
"They're a very good team," Robinson said. "They pass the ball really well. I really can't explain how I make those kinds of saves, though. It's really just instincts and reaction."
Despite the deficit, Skyline was anything but beaten after the first 40 minutes of play. The Hawks pressed hard to get the equalizer and matched the Wildcats shot-for-shot through the second half.
"We had a couple of breakdowns," Skyline coach Matt Dusing said. "But overall I thought it was a very evenly played game. We had a solid first half and I thought we really played well in the second half. We just had trouble making the connection between our midfield and our front line, and that resulted in fewer scoring opportunities than we would have liked."
With four minutes to play, the Wildcats were finally able to put the game away. Brian Cornell launched a cross from left wing that Robin Toledo hammered into the net.
"It was a really good cross by Brian," Toledo said. "I just hit it as hard as I could."
It was Warren County's first shutout of the season, and that pleased Pam Cornell as much as the victory.
"We kept pushing it forward and trying to open things up," she said. "Both teams really pushed the ball hard. We're really happy to get the shutout. That was very important."