By Stephen Boyle - firstname.lastname@example.org
WOODSTOCK -- Shenandoah Valley Academy's soccer team defeated Massanutten Military Academy 10-0 on Wednesday, but the biggest difference between the two teams isn't measured in goals, it's measured in minutes.
The MMA Colonels only practice for one hour a day after school. First-year coach Brian Dowler, who found out he'd be the head soccer coach two days before school started, admits that his biggest challenge has been getting his 25 kids, only four of whom are seniors, to come together as a team with so little practice time.
"They're coming together as a team," he said after the game. "It's just taking a little longer than we would've liked."
The SVA Stars soccer players, on the other hand, wake up at 5:30 in the morning to run their soccer field and do conditioning drills. Then they practice for 2-3 hours in the afternoon.
"It's not that good, but it's worth it when you get results like 10-0," said senior Leo Silva of the early-morning sessions.
Silva certainly looked like he was making the most of his practice time in the game against MMA. He scored seven of his team's goals and assisted the Stars' first goal with a crossing pass to Josue Aceituno. Silva didn't even know how many times he'd scored until someone told him after the game, but he and Stars coach Josh Jetter still believe there is room for improvement.
Jetter said his team looked "sloppy" in the first half and told them at halftime to "Get your butt in gear and play harder." He stresses giving 110 percent on the pitch, but he said his team gave about 10 percent in the first half. Silva, who scored five of the Stars' seven goals in the second half, agreed.
"I played better in the second half, but still not good enough," he said after the game.
Defense, especially in the first half, was the bright spot for MMA. Goalkeeper Jacob Bergert had 20 saves in the loss, which drops the Colonels to 3-3 on the season. Bergert's squad managed just two shots on goal, both coming in the second half, but he continued to make saves even with the game out of reach.
"I like him in goal. He's got a short memory," Dowler said. "Today he got a lot of work. That's definitely the best team we've seen all season."
That team is now a perfect 5-0 on the season. Seniors like Silva have never had an undefeated season, and to preserve it this year they'll have to beat Highland School today, a tough task according to Jetter. SVA was able to beat the Colonels without five starters, most of whom were ineligible to play due to grades. Jetter believes those players will be missed, especially on the defensive back line, against Highland.