By Brad Fauber
FRONT ROYAL -- Randolph-Macon Academy found very little success against a stubborn Fredericksburg Christian defense, as the Yellow Jackets were blanked 4-0 by the visiting Eagles on Tuesday.
R-MA coach Kerry Hurst was forced to use a less-experienced lineup for the first half after several starters recently missed practice, and the Yellow Jackets managed just one shot attempt in the first 40 minutes. R-MA had a better offensive push in the second half, but still couldn't break through for a goal.
Still, Tuesday's match demonstrated the improvement of the Yellow Jackets over the course of this season.
"I wasn't disappointed in how we played, but I certainly would have liked to have seen it go a little bit differently," Hurst said. "Last time [on Sept. 21] they beat us 9-1, so it's definitely an improvement."
Fredericksburg Christian (8-4-2, 4-2-1 Delaney Athletic Conference) dominated first-half possession as the Eagles held R-MA (4-8-2, 0-6-2 DAC) without a shot attempt for nearly 30 minutes of play. Eagles senior David Schools nearly put Fredericksburg Christian on the board in the 13th minute with a shot from inside the penalty box, but the ball hit the right goal post and rolled out of bounds.
Schools was more fortunate with his second shot of the day.
Eagles senior Gerard Sala sailed a pass ahead of the R-MA defense, allowing Schools to corral it as Yellow Jackets keeper Jahan Darvish charged the ball. Schools uncorked a kick from just above the box, and the ball ricocheted off the left post and into the net to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead in the 19th minute.
"I got a ball through and a player lunged at the ball, and I just got passed him," said Schools. "I played it past the goalie for an open shot."
Fredericksburg Christian struck again in the 25th minute when junior Brandon Chang streaked past several Yellow Jacket defenders down the right sideline before cutting back towards the middle of the box and sending the ball by Darvish.
The Eagles outshot R-MA 9-1 in the half, and 20-7 in the entire match.
"We're creating chances, and if you're creating chances, that's what you need, and hopefully you put a few in," said Fredericksburg Christian coach Patrick Patterson. "It was great just to get another win. Sometimes when you get to this part of the season, just getting the win and moving on is huge."
The Eagles made Darvish work hard early in the second half as the junior keeper made two of his six saves in the opening five minutes. R-MA was able to hold Fredericksburg Christian in check until the midway part of the second half.
Yellow Jackets senior Caleb Phillips was given a yellow card for tackling the Eagles' Chris Hughes near midfield in the 60th minute. On the ensuing free kick, the Eagles' Andrew Brown found Schools along the sideline, and Schools hit Moziah Ferguson with a cross pass into the box. Ferguson connected on the shot to put Fredericksburg Christian up 3-0.
Alex Garner capped the scoring in the 73rd minute when he scored on a breakaway.
The Yellow Jackets managed six shots in the second half but came up empty each time. R-MA missed a golden opportunity for a score when Phillips found Bryan Mazzola in the box for a wide open shot, but Mazzola's shot hit teammate Mansur Ahmed, the only person between Mazzola and the goal.
The ball stalled right in front of the goal line, and Fredericksburg Christian was able to clear it before the Yellow Jackets could punch it through.
"That kind of thing happens sometimes," Hurst said. "But, we've been progressing as the year goes on, and I'm hoping when we hit time for the tournament things will go a little bit differently for us."
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org