By Brad Fauber
WOODSTOCK -- The start to the 2013 boys soccer season was certainly a daunting one for Central, as it started the season with three matches against very tough opponents that quickly handed the Falcons three straight losses.
An 0-3 start could have easily sucked the life out of the inexperienced Falcons squad, but Central has been able to shake off the rough start to the season, and a 3-0 win over Bull Run District foe Rappahannock County on Tuesday night gave the Falcons their third win in a row.
"It can demoralize a team," Falcons coach Ted Poor said of losing three straight to open the season, "but their attitude has been great and it didn't demoralize them. You're seeing the results now with three wins."
Central (3-3, 2-2 Bull Run) dominated nearly every facet of the game on Tuesday against the Panthers (2-4, 1-3). The Falcons were able to steadily control the ball, limiting Rappahannock County's scoring opportunities while consistently mounting attacks against the Panthers' defense.
The Falcons fired off 20 shots in the match, while limiting Rappahannock County to eight attempts.
The shutout was the second in as many games for Central. Falcons senior defender Tony Whetzel said it has been a combination of good defensive rotation and ball control that has allowed Central to find success the last couple of games.
"We do a thing called a pendulum where everybody just shifts constantly -- it's constant running, constant everything," Whetzel said. "But its just possession, that's what we're getting better at and that's what's making our games."
Central went on the attack early against goalkeeper Charles Estes and the rest of the Panther defense, as the Falcons forced Estes to make three saves in the opening five minutes.
The Falcons continued to push the offensive charge throughout most of the first half, but couldn't cash in as the Panthers packed the penalty box and made it tough to find open shooting lanes.
Central finally broke through in the 30th minute, as sophomore Franklin Hernandez sent a kick from the top right corner of the penalty box past a diving Estes and into the left side of the net to give the Falcons a 1-0 lead.
"We're starting to meld as a team. We've been mixing up the players, mixing up the formations -- I'm really pleased with the way they played today," Poor said. "We're moving the ball nicely. We created a lot of opportunities."
Rappahannock County mounted a strong push of its own late in the first half in an attempt to tie the game, but Central keeper Jose Martinez (five saves) made a pair of saves and the Falcons' defense withheld until the end of the half.
Central padded its lead five minutes into the second half, when senior Nathan Wallace-Springer found teammate Stephen Hamrick with a through-ball into the box, and Hamrick was able to slip the ball into the net as Estes charged the pass.
"I just wanted to put it in. The second goal was the ice breaker of this game," Hamrick said. "I think after the second goal we had all the momentum."
Central found the back of the net one final time, when senior Wyatt Hitt's shot deflected off the crossbar right to teammate Adrian Reynoso, who was standing less than 10 yards in front of the goal. Reynoso, a sophomore, was able to cash in on the lucky bounce with the goal in the 55th minute to give the Falcons a 3-0 lead.
Central will have a chance to continue its momentum when the Falcons play Friday at home against William Monroe, and Poor said he expects a tough game from the Green Dragons.
The Falcons are confident they can maintain the momentum they've gathered from the last three contests.
"We just need to keep our teamwork up, keep our passing going. We definitely did a lot better passing this game," Whetzel said. "We played hard teams coming into the season and now we're just coming back, so it will kind of make ourselves better."
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or email@example.com