By Jeff Nations
STEPHENS CITY -- On a day designed to drive all but the hardiest indoors, Sherando High School's boys soccer team couldn't wait to get outside.
After weeks of waiting through snow and rain, and more of the same, the Warriors finally got their season started with Thursday's 3-1 non-district victory over Brentsville at Arrowhead Stadium.
With freezing temperatures made much, much worse by the unrelenting wind, the day hardly seemed an ideal debut. Don't tell that to Warriors coach Patrick Anderson, though.
"It was nice, just because we've been out so long," Anderson said. "I mean, we've been practicing and we've only been on a big field once the entire season so far. And we didn't have windy conditions like this, so it was nice for those guys to get out and play a little bit."
Sherando didn't need long to get on the scoreboard, and Brentsville (0-4) helped the Warriors do it with a foul in the penalty box. That set up Warriors senior Cade Petty for a penalty kick, and he punched it past Tigers goalkeeper Logan Bull for the game's first score.
The Warriors kept up the pressure throughout the first half. Taking advantage of the wind at their backs, Sherando pressed the attack. With 11:25 left in the first half, they broke through again when Cullen Crosen collected a centering pass from Petty in the penalty area and hit a slicing shot past Bull.
The Tigers couldn't do much on their side, thanks to Sherando's stout defense and that unyielding wind.
"The wind in our face that first half did not help," Brentsville coach Chris Greene said. "Kicking the ball in the air was not the thing to do when you've got the wind in your face because it just drops it, and you've got no attack."
Sherando padded that lead a bit more as the first half wound down in stoppage time. The Warriors' Andrew Wade collected a loose ball in the penalty area, spun and hit a rising shot that sailed just under the crossbar and into the back of the net.
Knowing the Warriors would be on the receiving end of that windy weather in the second half and that the Tigers were bound to increase their own offensive pressure, Sherando assistant coach Dustin Butcher suggested shifting formations to pack five midfielders onto the field for the final 40 minutes.
"Dustin suggested that we go to five in the midfield to kind of slow things down for them," Anderson said. "We tried to not give them as much space together. That was a good adjustment on our part."
Brentsville did manage some sporadic attacks, but for the most part Sherando simply outmuscled the Tigers.
"That's something we've struggled with so far this year," Greene said. "We're real young. We lost 12 seniors from last year, so we only have three seniors and the rest are all underclassmen other than a couple of juniors."
Anderson has been on the other side of that situation.
"With all the seniors, growth-wise we're there -- finally," Anderson said. "We're one of the bigger teams now."
Brentsville did finally break through to spoil a shutout by Sherando keeper Rodrigo Casteriana. C.J. Martin's kick from inside the penalty area was deflected to Tigers teammate Enrique Paredes, who snapped off a shot that skidded past Casteriana in stoppage time.
Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or firstname.lastname@example.org>