By Brad Fauber
The Shenandoah District boys soccer tournament will have a familiar face sitting in the No. 1 seed, as Stonewall Jackson will once again be the heavy favorite to win the district tournament crown.
The Generals (16-0) have been the team to beat in the Shenandoah District for years, and Wednesday's 7-0 win over Stuarts Draft in the regular season finale capped the fifth straight season that Stonewall has gone undefeated in district play.
Stonewall has also won the district tournament four years in a row, and that experience should help the Generals as they seek to make it five straight titles.
"I have eight seniors on my team, and that helps a lot because all of these guys have seen the district tournament, have won the district tournament," Generals first-year coach Caleb Golladay said. "They have a mindset to win and that's all they're thinking. They want to come out and be on top."
Stonewall will host No. 8 Luray on Friday in the first round of the tournament. The Generals have already beaten Luray twice this season by a combined score of 19-0, but Golladay said that Stonewall will not look past the winless Bulldogs.
"We're going to go into this game the same way we do any other game," Golladay said. "That's been the biggest thing since I was a player at Stonewall -- taking it one game at a time."
Sherando also finds itself with the top seed for the second straight year as the Warriors prepare for the Northwestern District tournament. But unlike Stonewall, Sherando is seeking to avenge last year's early exit in the tournament with a strong showing this season.
The Warriors (13-1-1) were beaten by Millbrook in the semifinal round of the tournament last season, and Sherando coach Patrick Anderson said that gives his team some motivation entering this year's tourney, which begins today.
"I remind them constantly of what occurred, just to remind them why we're here," Anderson said. "They remember that, because they didn't like the feeling of losing that game."
Sherando went unbeaten in district play this year, with the only blemish being a scoreless tie against Handley. The Warriors are finally at full health after battling injuries for most of the season, but Anderson said he expects a competitive tournament and that any team could win the crown.
Sherando will play Saturday against the winner of today's play-in game between fourth-seeded James Wood and No. 5 Skyline.
Skyline has had a tough time finding success in district play so far, going winless in eight matches, and the Hawks will need to be at their best if they hope to steal a win in the district tournament.
"I feel like we can beat James Wood, and I believe the team feels that we can beat them. We'll have to wait and see," Hawks coach Chris Holloway said. "If we're on our 'A' game, we have a really good chance of doing it."
In the Evergreen District tournament, Warren County has locked up the No. 2 seed behind district unbeaten Kettle Run.
The Wildcats will host No. 3 Liberty when the tourney kicks off next Monday, and it will be the third time that the two teams have met in the span of a week. Warren County beat the Eagles, 2-0, at home on Monday and will travel to Liberty today to wrap up the regular season. A win today would give the Wildcats a four-game winning streak heading into the tournament.
"We are approaching the tournament with great optimism and confidence that we can take care of business," Wildcats coach Manuel Alban said. "The team is coming together quite nicely. Their level of play has vastly improved and am confident that will continue to get better granted that we continue on our winning streak."
Central has also been riding a hot streak during the second half of the season, and the Falcons have climbed to the No. 4 spot in the Bull Run District tournament. Central has ripped off six wins in a row -- all in the district -- since tying Clarke County on April 26, and the Falcons carry plenty of momentum and confidence into their Friday match-up with No. 5 William Monroe.
Central has played the Green Dragons twice this season, picking up a tie and a 1-0 win.
Strasburg will be the seventh seed in the Bull Run tournament, and the Rams are scheduled to meet up with No. 2 Manassas Park on the road on Friday. The Cougars have beaten the Rams twice this season by scores of 5-2 and 6-2.
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org