By Dennis Atwood - email@example.com
QUICKSBURG -- Sophomore mid-fielder Ed Juarez scored his first career hat trick in the first half, and six other Stonewall Jackson players scored, as the Generals defeated Luray 9-3 in Shenandoah District soccer action Thursday evening.
Rather than a let down after clinching their fourth consecutive district championship on Tuesday, the Generals super-charged their offense with 39 shots to remain undefeated in district play.
Jaurez zipped two penalty kicks from the penalty spot past first-year Luray keeper Andrew Ponn, and banged in a 10-yarder off an assist from Noah Dodge.
"This is my first hat trick, ever, in my sixth year of soccer," Juarez said. "I was glad to make the two PKs, because I missed one at Millbrook in the beginning of the season.
"I'm happy we scored [so many goals]. We usually have a hard time scoring and putting the game away, and we did it quick."
The Generals (13-1, 12-0 Shenandoah) started four players who are usually substitutes, three by choice -- sophomore defender Rafael Zuniga, senior mid-fielder Dodge, and sophomore defender Eduardo Ortega, who just moved up from the JV squad.
Rafael Zuniga showed great persistence, and offensive prowess for a defender, in filling in at forward on offense in the second half. After his hard 15-yard shot in the 62nd minute hit the top of the cross bar, he came back in the 69th minute to arc in the Generals ninth and final goal from 17 yards out.
"I had to get that goal," Zuniga said. "I was lost up there the whole time. I didn't know when to shoot, because usually in the defense, it's all different when you just take on people and you don't have to worry about shooting."
Generals coach Nate Hissong made note of the his defenders' offensive production.
"[Juarez's] role is mainly defense, but he has great offensive stats," HIssong said. "And Raffa [Zuniga] was pushing up a lot and he's been an excellent defender, but hadn't found the score sheet. And in the past few games we've been looking to get him involved in the attack."
A substitute of necessity was goalkeeper Eustergio Cruz-Cortes, a 5-foot-4 senior, who replaced the starting keeper, freshman Ryan Zerkel, who broke a foot in practice Wednesday.
Zerkel had achieved seven shutouts and is most likely done for the season.
"We have [Cruz-Cortes], who was our starting keeper last year," Hissong said. "He's earned a lot of time this year, but our new keeper, Zerkel, beat him out for the starting job. He's experienced and he did an excellent job for us last year."
Adding to Juarez' hat trick, the Generals got first-half goals from Joe Livesay and Noah Dodge (assist by Jonas Jacuinde).
The Generals held a 5-0 halftime lead, then the Bulldogs came to life and scored three goals in the second half.
Luray's first goal came in the 44th minute, when junior right-wing Ryan Windle powered a 16-yarder from the center to the back of the net.
Two Bulldogs completed Luray's scoring, with senior Keegan Nichols netting a 17-yarder from the right side in the 62nd minute, and as the game-clock wound down, senior fullback Ryan Foltz booted in a 10-yarder in the 78th minute.
"Stonewall's a good team and we know that coming in," Bulldogs coach Steve Foltz said. "Our goal in the second half, as I told the team at halftime, was to try to win the second half.
"We still lost the second half, 4-3, but I think we played a little better. [The Generals] handle the ball so well and it's always a tough game against them. They pass, they move, they know where they're supposed to be. They do a great job."
Joining Zuniga in scoring second-half goals for Stonewall Jackson was junior mid-fielder David Dodson, on a five-yard header off a ricochet of an Ed Cardoso shot. Senior forward Matt McCampbell scored on an improbable bouncer over Ponn, and senior mid-fielder Ed Cardoso scored on a perfectly arced 17-yarder.
"We definitely take pride in spreading the scoring around," Hissong said. "We didn't push Luray's goalie as hard as we might have, but we had dominant production."