By Brad Fauber- sports@nvdaily
WOODSTOCK -- Host Central couldn't overcome its recent scoring woes, falling 2-0 to Bull Run District foe Rappahannock County in boys soccer action on Thursday.
It was the fourth consecutive shutout loss for Central (5-7-1, 3-7-1 Bull Run), which has been without leading offensive threat Stephen Hamrick for the last two games including Thursday's match. Hamrick is working his way back from a concussion.
The loss also impacts the Falcons' spot in the district standings as the regular season begins to wind down. Central, which battled to a tie with Rappahannock County on April 10, had the opportunity to move into fourth place with a win over the Panthers (7-7-1, 5-5-1) on Thursday.
"We're going to need some luck now or we're going to be one-and-done in the district," Falcons coach Ted Poor said. "We were looking to finish fourth or fifth, but I don't know if that's going to happen now.
"I think we can win two of the [remaining] three games coming up, but I don't know if that's going to be good enough."
With George Mason, Manassas Park and Clarke County all battling for control over the top spot in the district, Rappahannock County strengthened its hold on fourth place with the win.
"Any win in the Bull Run District is big," said Panthers coach James Lofton. "I don't care if it's Strasburg, Central or Manassas Park -- it's big for us. The best teams in the state are in this district, so it's fabulous to come out and get this victory."
Offensive opportunities, much less any meaningful attacks on goal, were hard to come by for nearly the first 20 minutes of action as neither team was willing to give much defensively.
Central actually maintained solid control of the ball through the opening minutes of the first half, but couldn't put together a solid attack to put pressure on the Panthers' defense. The Falcons didn't register a shot on goal until the 24th minute.
"The boys played a good game, I thought. They played hard," Poor said. "I think we possessed the game, for the most part."
The Falcons ended up outshooting Rappahannock County 4-3 in the first half, but the Panthers were able to take advantage of their few opportunities thanks to some fancy ball work by sophomore Amrit Tamang.
In the 17th minute, Tamang gathered the ball near the top left corner of the penalty area and dribbled by a Central defender to open a shooting lane. Tamang then uncorked a rocket that got past a diving attempt by Falcons keeper Jordan Umstead and banked off the right goal post and into the back of the net to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead.
"It was an excellent piece of individual work by Amrit," Lofton said. "I think, given the atmosphere on the team, given the work ethic, I was confident that [success on offense] was eventually going to happen."
Rappahannock County took the 1-0 lead into intermission before adding to the margin early in the second half.
In the 49th minute, Umstead made a sliding attempt to cover up the ball in the penalty area as Panthers sophomore Tanyon Lee was bearing down to take a shot, and Umstead collided with Lee's legs. Umstead was called for a tackle and a penalty kick was awarded to Lee, and Lee converted to give the Panthers a 2-0 cushion.
Central could not find an answer despite tallying seven shots in the second half. Rappahannock County held a 12-11 shot advantage for the game.
Umstead had four saves for Central, and Charles Estes recorded five saves for the Panthers.
"We changed our formation today. We went with a 3-2-3-2, and it seemed to help, but the idea is to push them as much forward as you can," Poor said. "I think there is a hesitancy to shoot up front a little bit."