By Tommy Keeler Jr.
WOODSTOCK -- Stonewall Jackson faced an early deficit against Central on Friday night -- but the Generals weren't fazed.
Stonewall Jackson junior Roberto Cardoso Jr. responded with a hat trick to propel the Generals to a 4-1 non district boys soccer win over the Falcons.
"I was a little bit [worried after the first goal]," Cardoso said. "But I knew if we kept our head in the game, and played like we know how, we could overcome that and come out on top."
The Falcons struck first, only eight minutes into the game. Central's Stephen Hamrick passed the ball to sophomore Franklin Hernandez on a breakaway. Hernandez faked out Stonewall Jackson goalkeeper Ryan Zerkel and put it past him for a 1-0 lead.
Nine minutes later, Cardoso scored the first of his three first-half goals. Cardoso drilled a shot from around 20 yards out to tie the game.
"I saw a perfect shot and I took it," Cardoso said.
A little over a minute later, Cardoso scored again, this time from short-range.
"The second one Jonas Jacuinde gave me a perfect ball to the 6, and I all I had to do was put it in the back of the net," Cardoso said.
Cardoso saved his best for last with a goal that looked like something from a video game. With a little over five minutes left on the clock, Cardoso weaved his way through several Central defenders near the goal, then he made a move past Central's Tony Whetzel and put the ball past Central goalie Eric Ventura.
"I felt crazy for doing it because I had so many defenders in front of me, but I looked around and I saw space," Cardoso said. "I saw the space and I saw Tony [Whetzel] in the back and I thought a little juke, and I'll take him off me and that's what I did. And luckily there was just the goalie back there. And I just put it to the left of him."
The Generals dominated possession throughout the game. The Falcons had several good chances to score after their first goal, but couldn't score.
Stonewall Jackson added another goal in the final minutes. Kevin Mejia scored on a rebound from a missed shot to give the Generals the 4-1 edge.
"The ball bounced around a couple times at the top of the box," Stonewall Jackson coach Caleb Golladay said. "Juan [Luna] had a shot, Leo Galindez had a shot ... somehow the ball got to the bottom of the box on the line and Kevin [Mejia] was there at the right time to put it in."
It was only the second game for both teams, and the Falcons hadn't played in over a week.
With a young squad, Central coach Ted Poor was happy with how his team played.
"They did a good job. I'm proud of what they did," Poor said. "We just have to cut down on the errors, but we're a young team and we're going to make mistakes. And we're going to improve as the season goes on."
Golladay said he was very happy with the way his squad bounced back from the early deficit.
"They worked hard and kept their heads up, and they pressured very well, and they moved the ball very well," Golladay said. "This is a big county rivalry. They beat us last year 3-1. I was just happy to come out of here with a victory."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org