By Jerry Holsworth - firstname.lastname@example.org
STEPHENS CITY -- Sherando's boys soccer team dominated Spotswood for 80 minutes Tuesday, defeating the Blazers 2-0.
But the most glaring aspect of the game was the lack of Warriors' goals.
"We had a lot of opportunities and just weren't able to finish," Sherando coach Pat Anderson said. "We're a young team and we're getting there. We lost 30 goals from last year's seniors, and it's going to take some time to get that back."
The Warriors outshot the Blazers 23-3 for the game, and 15-1 in the first half. The dominance was obvious from the first whistle. Spotswood's first ball in the Sherando penalty area came with only 10 minutes left in the first half, and that was the result of a free kick.
"We're a very young team, and we're trying to get more movement up front," Blazers coach Wes Mitchell said. "Our guys haven't played together that long, and it's going to take some time. We need to build some consistency up front."
One aspect of Spotswood's game that was outstanding was the play of its back five. Clay Sowers, Zach Slater, Noe Mendoza and Kyle Groves combined with goalkeeper Gene Stainback to frustrate the Warriors all night.
Sherando pounded the Blazers goal almost constantly in the first half and was not able to get it past Stainback and the Spotswood defense.
"We've been bending without breaking all season," Mitchell said. "We're solid on defense. We just need the midfield and the front line to start producing, too."
The Warriors finally got a goal late in the first half on a spectacular throw-in by Brian Ferraro. Standing deep in the left corner of the field, the Sherando sophomore hurled the ball into the goal mouth.
"We really work hard, and to me that works for us," Ferraro said. "If you keep working hard for 80 minutes, we're going to get a goal. It's not a matter of if, but when."
With four minutes left in the half, Ferraro provided the when for Peter Restrepo, who headed Ferraro's throw-in past Stainback for the first goal of the game.
"Brian gave us a great opportunity in front of the goal," Restrepo said. "He made a beautiful throw-in, and I just headed it into the goal."
The Warriors' defense was overwhelming all over the field in the opening half. Spotswood's only shot in the half came in the last three minutes, and it was easily saved by Sherando goalkeeper Zach Santmier. It also proved to be his only save of the game.
The Warriors kept Santmier from being threatened by beating the Blazers for almost every loose ball. Even the front line got into the act, making it difficult for Spotswood to get the ball anywhere near midfield.
"I'm really not that frustrated about the lack of goals," Restrepo said. "What I'm really happy about is that we totally dominated them and we held them to a shutout. If they can't score, it's hard from them to win."
Spotswood recovered a little in the second half, and was able to hold Sherando to just eight shots. But that really didn't affect the outcome of the game. The Warriors got their final goal of the game with seven minutes left on a breakaway by Michael O'Connell.
The Warriors senior broke free 35 yards from the goal, thanks to a pass from Sean Lewis.
"Sean got the ball to me as I was running in," O'Connell said. "He played it perfectly. I just settled the play and raced towards the goal."
O'Connell dashed past the Blazers defense and blasted the ball past Stainback from 10 yards out.
"We only beat them 1-0 the last time we played them," O'Connell said. "We really didn't play well in that game. This last week we had great practices, and we're beginning to come together. I thought we played a lot better tonight."