By Brad Fauber
QUICKSBURG -- Stonewall Jackson's boys soccer team badly needed a win against visiting Shenandoah District rival Stuarts Draft on Friday evening.
Off to their first 0-2 start in a handful of years, the Generals wanted to put their first two games of the season behind them and simply get back to playing the brand of soccer that helped lead them to a Group A state runner-up finish a season ago. Stonewall Jackson did that against the Cougars.
The Generals were aggressive early and withstood a late charge by Stuarts Draft, as a goal in the match's final seven minutes by senior Nathan Jones sealed a 2-1 victory for Stonewall Jackson.
"The thing that we said before the game was just the fact that we needed a win," Generals second-year coach Caleb Golladay said. "We haven't started a season 0-2 in probably about six years, so it's been a while. To come out here and start this bad ... it was big for us because it hasn't happened.
"... It was good to come out and get the win. I hated to even see that one goal go in, but I was just proud of the guys because they fought back the last 20 minutes and got that goal."
It seemed only appropriate that Jones -- a relative newcomer to the Stonewall program who hasn't play for the Generals since his freshman season -- would be the one to usher in a new era for a team that is still looking to replace a lot of its offensive firepower from a year ago.
"He's one of the most hard-working guys on the team, and he is a guy that will go after the ball. He will fight for it, he'll push through anybody to get to the ball. If he loses it, he comes right back and gets it. I was glad that he was the one to score that goal," Golladay said.
Jones' first varsity goal came just eight minutes after Stuarts Draft (1-1) knotted the score at 1-1 with 15 minutes remaining when senior P.J. Dietz gathered a cross pass inside the penalty box, wheeled and fired a shot past Stonewall goalkeeper Ryan Zerkel.
The Generals' goal scoring opportunity came in the 73rd minute, as sophomore Pedro Jacuinde pushed a through-ball ahead to senior Roberto Cardoso Jr. on a breakaway. Cardoso appeared to be in good position for a one-on-one chance with Stuarts Draft keeper Andrew Kinkead, but Cardoso was tripped up just outside the box and drew a free-kick opportunity.
Kinkead made a spectacular diving save on Cardoso's ensuing free kick, but the ball bounced right to Jones, who sent the ball into the open net for the go-ahead score with 7 minutes to play.
"I guess the goalie got a bad hit on it and I just kicked it as hard as I could and hoped it went in," Jones said.
"It was luck. I don't think it could've worked out any better."
Stonewall Jackson (1-2, 1-1 Shenandoah) opened the match aggressively in the first 40 minutes, as the Generals enjoyed a 14-1 shot advantage that forced Kinkead into eight first-half saves.
The Generals finally got on the scoreboard in the 27th minute, as Jacuinde found a wide-open Cardoso with a through pass into the box, and Cardoso converted the shot to give Stonewall a 1-0 lead.
"Pedro Jacuinde, he did a great job of opening himself up and I just had to make the diagonal run to the box and just tap it in. He did most of the work," Cardoso said.
Stuarts Draft evened things up in the second half, as fired seven second-half shots -- including four in the first six minutes.
"We switched, about halfway through the first half, from a 4-4-2 to a 3-5-2. We haven't played that at all," Golladay said. "... As soon as we started the second half they came out strong. They came out with a little bit of fire and it seemed like they were pushing one extra guy up top because they noticed we were playing three in the back."
Zerkel finished with five saves for Stonewall Jackson, while Kinkead had 11 for the Cougars. Stonewall finished the game with a 21-8 advantage in shots and, most importantly, its first win of the season.
"They were hard losses but we needed to come back, get some confidence under us and come back and play Stonewall soccer," Cardoso said. "Those two losses, there were just little mistakes that we made and we keep working harder and harder. It shows that if you practice hard you're going to come out and improve on the field."
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @BradFauberNVD