Christendom rallies to beat Lord Fairfax

By Brad Fauber

FRONT ROYAL — Christendom’s men’s soccer team prides itself on a unified effort whenever it takes to the pitch for a match, but much of the teamwork that has helped the Crusaders find success so far this season was absent when they took the field against visiting Lord Fairfax Community College on Thursday.

Luckily for the Crusaders, they play pretty well individually, too, and Christendom was able to easily dispose of the Lions, beating LFCC 6-2. The Crusaders were powered by two goals apiece from brothers Johnny and Stephen Foeckler.

“We played with a lot more individuality here and we just kind of fell apart at some points,” Johnny Foeckler said. “We did score six … but that doesn’t go to show how well we can play. It was one of those games where you walk off the field and you’re still kind of frustrated with the way you played.”

Johnny Foeckler admitted that the Crusaders came out a little lethargic — possibly due to the fact that Christendom hadn’t played or practiced in four days prior to Thursday’s match — and that sluggishness showed early.

The Lions were the first to strike in the match, as Millbrook graduate Edgar Trujillio gathered a deflected ball and sent a shot into the back of the net from about 30 yards out just 40 seconds into the match.

“It could have been cleared a little bit better by the fullback and it took a deflection, so [Christendom goal keeper] Tim [Vander Woude] went one way and the ball went the other,” Crusaders coach Jake Guttierrez said. “It’s just unlucky. But we didn’t change one thing. We said if a team is going to depend upon luck for goals, then that’s fine … because we’re going to come out on top every single time.”

Christendom had a chance to answer just two minutes later on a penalty kick by Johnny Foeckler, but LFCC goalkeeper Zach Houle made a diving stop to deny the shot.

Johnny Foeckler did manage to find the back of the net shortly after, however, as he received a nice cross pass in the penalty box by Sean Salmon that Foeckler converted into Christendom’s first goal in the fourth minute.

“What we normally do is have one person crash in goal … I was hanging back a little bit, there was an open gap and I just called out for him and he immediately saw me,” Johnny Foeckler said. “It was a simple one-touch. That was one of those times where the system just clicks, and it felt good.”

Christendom (8-1) continued to put pressure on the Lions’ defense throughout the first half, and the Crusaders took their first lead of the night when freshman Stephen Foeckler connected for a goal off an assist by Pat Audino in the 27th minute.

“That one was kind of funny actually. I got the ball and it kind of stuck between my feet, so I was like ‘oh shoot, what do I do?'” Stephen Floeckler said. “Luckily I managed to get it out with a couple touches and the goalie thought I was shooting it, so he kind of slid. I just poked it over him into the corner.”

LFCC (1-5) refused to back down, however, as Trujillio answered with his second goal of the night to tie the match at 2-all in the 31st minute. On the goal, Trujillio dribbled through the Christendom defense to the top of the penalty box, where he uncorked a shot past a diving Vander Woude.

“We pieced things together. We had some nice plays where we were moving the ball around,” Lions coach Patrick Gladden said. “[Trujillio] is a very talented young man. He can expose a defense that’s not ready … and that’s what he does. He’s so talented with the ball at his feet.”

Christendom took over the match following LFCC’s second goal, as Johnny Foeckler and freshman Joey Kuplack each scored a goal in a span of a minute to help the Crusaders take a 4-2 lead into halftime.

The Crusaders dominated the second half, getting goals by Stephen Foeckler and Salmon to extend the lead while Christendom’s defense didn’t allow a shot on goal over the final 45 minutes.

Christendom fired 25 shots in the match, compared to just four from LFCC. Houle had eight saves for the Lions, while Vander Woude recorded a lone save for the Crusaders.

“I think teams can play a few different ways, and they can win in a few different ways,” Guttierrez said. “After this game the energy level was very low, which is a sign of a lot of individualistic running. There is running in soccer, but generally the worse you’re playing as a team, the more you’re going to run. So we’ve just got to get back to the teamwork.”

Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or bfauber@nvdaily.com. Follow on Twitter @BradFauberNVD