By Brad Fauber
WOODSTOCK -- Central has come together quite nicely since dropping its first three matches of the season, and a rejuvenated Falcons squad picked up an important Bull Run District boys soccer win over Madison County on Tuesday evening.
The Falcons used a complete team effort, moving the ball around nicely while stifling the Mountaineers' offensive attack to grab a 6-1 victory.
Tuesday's win comes on the heels of two inspired performances last week, when the Falcons lost a close match to George Mason and tied with Clarke County, two teams that had beaten Central by a combined score of 12-0 to in their first meetings earlier this season.
Tuesday's win was also a critical one for Central in that it keeps them in the hunt for the No. 4 spot in the district standings.
"The team is coming together really nicely, which is what I kind of hoped for," Falcons coach Ted Poor said. "We were young -- we had 12 new faces -- so we took some beatings in the first three games, and then we won some.
"This is important. If we can keep the run going, I'm hoping we can climb up to fourth."
Chemistry has been the biggest factor for the Falcons (4-5-2, 3-4-2 Bull Run) over the last several games, and Central demonstrated some crisp passing against Madison County (2-9-1, 1-8-1).
Central senior Stephen Hamrick was the recipient of two beautiful passes by his teammates in the opening half, and Hamrick took advantage with a pair of goals midway through the first half to give the Falcons a 2-0 lead.
His first goal came as Falcons sophomore Adrian Reynoso chased down a long free-ball and crossed it to Hamrick in the penalty box, and Hamrick sent his shot into the upper-right corner of the net to give Central the lead in the 16th minute.
Hamrick scored again in the 19th minute on a nice chip pass by senior John Trelawny, pushing Central's lead to two goals. Hamrick added an assist of his own later in the half, as he found junior Nathan Spencer in the middle of the box. Spencer's shot hit the bottom of the crossbar and skipped back into the net to give the Falcons a 3-0 lead in the 30th minute.
"This is the best team that I've probably been on, chemistry-wise," Hamrick said. "The way we played against Clarke and Mason was just beautiful soccer, and then today we just kept it up. You can trust anybody on the team to put the ball into the net. When we move the ball around, it's just beautiful."
Madison County scored with two minutes left in the first half on an unassisted goal by Immanuel Gentry, but Central stayed hot in the second half as senior Wyatt Hitt scored his first goal of the year off an assist by Nathan Wallace-Springer early in the 45th minute to extend the lead back to three goals.
Hitt, who had limped off the pitch late in the first half after he suffered a cut just under his left knee, scored again in the 61st minute when he followed up on a missed shot by teammate Franklin Hernandez that bounced off the left goal post right to Hitt as he raced into the penalty area.
"I just followed it, and boom. I was waiting for the pass, but [Hernandez] just shot it. It came off the post perfect," Hitt said. "I was pumped, I wanted to get some goals because I haven't scored all year."
Central's final goal came in the 72nd minute, as Madison County headed a shot into its own goal to give the Falcons a 6-1 lead.
Central outshot the Mountaineers 18-12 in the match, and sophomore keeper Eric Ventura recorded seven saves for the Falcons.
Central has two more games against district competition this week, as it travels to Rappahannock County on Thursday and Strasburg on Friday. The Falcons will need to win to keep within reach of the fourth seed in the district playoffs.
"We're playing inspired soccer. They're playing hard, they're running hard and they're doing a great job. They believe in themselves, and that's all it takes," Poor said. "If we can keep our focus, we can climb the ladder. We've got work ahead of us, no question about that, but they're doing a nice job."
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org