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By Shaun Broy - firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- Wearing black from head to toe, Sherando faced off against the homestanding James Wood Colonels -- dressed in white from top to bottom -- as the county rivals entered their first regular season Northwestern District match looking to take an early lead in the race.
Both teams were trying to shake off some early-season losses to teams outside the district. It was pretty clear which team was the better team by the end of the night, as the Colonels secured their second win of the season by besting the Warriors 2-0 at Jerry L. Kelican Stadium on Thursday night.
James Wood (2-2-1, 1-0 Northwestern) went on attack right from the whistle and took some early strikes at the goal, while The Warriors found themselves backed up sometimes with 10 players packed inside the Colonels' box.
Both teams found opportunities going back and forth across the field that they were unable to capitalize on early in the game.
Once things settled down, the Colonels were the team that began to control the game. Sherando (0-5-1, 0-1) seemed to be just a step behind all night, while the Colonels were beating their opponents to the ball.
"We came out ready to play like I thought we would," James Wood coach Chris Hild said.
It wasn't surprising to see junior Matt Henriques strike like lightning out of nowhere in the 21st minute of play. The Colonels defense cleared the ball to midfield, where Henriques quickly settled it and shot off towards the Warriors' goal. The midfielder, known for his speed and quick-strike abilities, blew past two Warriors defenders and found himself one-on-one with Sherando goalkeeper Rodrigo Casteriana.
In the blink of an eye, the ball went from just in front the James Wood's own goal to hitting the back of the Warriors' net thanks to Henriques, putting the Colonels up 1-0.
Sherando searched for a way to create scoring opportunities, but their offense was met by a stingy Colonels defense that held off any serious threat by the Warriors through the first half of play. The Colonels took a 1-0 lead into the break.
James Wood entered the second half of play looking to connect with Henriques once again, but the Warriors had defenders covering him tightly, sometimes double-teaming him when the Colonels looked upfield.
"I was frustrated all night," Henriques said. "They were all over me and pushed me to the ground a few times."
The Warriors seemed to be a team looking for an identity and leadership on the field. Their play was inconsistent and erratic at times throughout the game. Their defense kept them in the game, but the Warriors just couldn't get anything consistent going offensively.
Warriors coach Pat Anderson was searching for something to come together on the field, but his adjustments didn't make much of a difference in his team's play.
"It's tough when you have a young team," Anderson said. "We didn't even have a senior on the field tonight."
In the 62nd minute of play, Henriques almost hit the target again, but his shot plunked off the crossbar and back into the field of play. The James Wood offense kept its pressure up, forcing the Warriors back on their toes.
Then, just seconds after Henriques' failed attempt, his teammate Logan Yost sent a short pass through a group of Sherando players to Spencer Marfing, who nailed a shot from five yards out into the back of the net for the final goal.
As the game clock wound down, the Colonels continued to pressure the Warriors' net and remained dangerous of the break. Sherando had no answer. James Wood outshot the Warriors, 12-5.
"We just couldn't get anything going tonight," Anderson said. "We did start to play with more intensity towards the end of the game, but that was a little too late."