By Dennis Atwood - firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- The 25 shots on goal launched by the Skyline Hawks should have earned a victory, but it was the Strasburg Rams who made better use of their 15 scoring attempts. The Rams took their first win of the year, following a winless 2011 season, 3-1, in nondistrict boys soccer action Thursday night.
Strasburg started the scoring with senior forward Levi Dofermire's 15 footer from left-center at 23 minutes.
When Skyline goalkeeper James Clatterbuck came forward, Rams senior middle Nelson Fuentes capitalized on the opportunity by booting in the eventual match-winner from the center at 17 feet, in the 30th minute.
"[The goalie] came out and I got to the ball and was able to get a touch on it," Fuentes said. "I saw the cross coming and I knew I had get it in [to the goal].
"[The win] gives us a lot of juice getting ready to play Manassas Park tomorrow night."
Strasburg (1-2) senior goalie Tyler Henry faced one of several serious challenges in the 31st minute, when Hawks Evan Pavlicek kicked a shot to Henry's right and Kishan Shah launched a follow-up from 10 feet on the left side, that Henry laid out fully to deflect.
In the second half, Skyline (0-6) senior middle Jeremy Kenny also tried the bang-bang attack from 22-feet out on the left.
Kenny's first shot ricocheted off the left upright and Henry smothered Kenny's immediate follow-up.
"They were pounding it in on me, back and forth," Henry said. "This was the busiest night of my varsity career. [Against repetitive shots] you just gotta keep a low center of gravity and be able to get back quick enough to get at the ball."
The Hawks had the same roster and uniform numbers in the second half, but they played like a different team, spending at least 85 percent of the clock time on the offensive side of the pitch. Set-ups, passing, and down-field defense were all working well for Skyline -- everything but getting the ball past Henry.
With the lone exception of Matt Clatterback, that is. Clatterback solved Henry's defense in the 24th minute of the second half, with a 65-foot shot from the center for the Hawks only goal.
"Like we were saying on the sidelines, at one point in time, our manager said that, at the 20 minute mark [in second half] we had 10 shots on goal and four corner kicks," Skyline coach Paul Kline said. "We just couldn't buy [a goal]. Our guys were doing what we told them to do, and we just couldn't convert one into the back of the net."
Domenico Lubrano put the bow on Strasburg's win, by scoring with one minute remaining in the contest, from 25 feet to the right of center.
Rams coach Joel Ross was keenly aware of the difference between the halves.
"I don't think we won the second half," Ross said. "I mean, score-wise we did, but they stepped it up and we were just barely hanging on. Kudos to them for stepping up that aggression and creating a lot of opportunities. We were not able to hold together as smart a game as I would have liked in the second half.
"I felt great about the first half. They had some opportunities -- it wasn't that we dominated completely. For the second half, I tried to tame our guys enthusiasm and confidence a little bit, because we still had a full 40 minutes to go. And they got a little desperate, but, obviously, we feel good about the result."
Kline noted the statistical oddity of the second half.
"Statistics would usually show that of 14 shots, at least two would go in," he said. "It's just unlucky on our part. After speaking to them at the half, because it was just the opposite, they straightened up and were ready to play. We worked their goalie hard and made him look really good. He worked his butt off back there, so props to him."