Generals get first victory
By Tommy Keeler Jr.
QUICKSBURG — Stonewall Jackson girls soccer coach Derek Hartwig has been waiting for his young squad to put everything together and get in the win column. On Friday night the Generals did just that.
The Generals rallied from an early second-half deficit and pulled out a 4-2 Shenandoah District victory over East Rockingham.
“They finally just came out and said we’re not going to go 0-5. We’re not going to start this way,” Hartwig said. “They never gave up and came out with the first ‘W.’ So it was awesome.”
The Generals (1-4, 1-2 Shenandoah) needed only 42 seconds to score the first goal of the game on a Brittany Singleton goal.
Stonewall Jackson held the lead for about 14 minutes, until East Rockingham’s Sarah King tied the game in the 15th minute.
“We came out, obviously, in the first 42 seconds, and scored a goal and kind of got excited,” Hartwig said. “Then the rest of the first half, we kind of went downhill again. Going back to playing, and not really doing what we needed to do out there.”
Stonewall Jackson freshman goalkeeper Blaire Sharman helped keep the Generals tied with several nice saves, in the off and on, pouring rain. It was only the second start for Sharman, who was called up from the JV team after an injury to starter Jessica Pechie earlier this season.
“She did outstanding,” Stonewall Jackson junior Emily Jordan said. “I’m so thankful she was able to step up. We brought her up from JV’s, and she’s doing great. She’s getting better every day. So, I’m very thankful for that.”
East Rockingham’s Alex Cable gave the Eagles a 2-1 lead on a goal in the first two minutes of the second half.
The Generals responded as Jordan took a pass from Ally Hepner and lofted a shot just over East Rockingham goalkeeper Kristie Coonley’s head to tie the game at 2-2 with 32 minutes left in the game.
“It was a beautiful assist from Ally [Hepner],” Jordan said. “She just saw me in an open spot, and I was able to finish it.”
Jordan gave the Generals the lead for good with 16:35 left in the game. Her shot slipped right past Coonley to give the Generals a 3-2 edge.
“My second goal, the rain worked to my advantage,” Jordan said. “It was able to slide past the goalie.”
Ali Singleton scored with 5:08 left to help seal the first victory of the season for the Generals.
Jordan said the rain definitely made it tougher throughout the game.
“The first half we were getting so frustrated with the weather, but we were able to just keep going and push through it,” Jordan said. “We needed this win just not to get down on ourselves. The second half we worked on talking and using shorter passes with the rain.”
Hartwig said he’s been preaching to his squad to use shorter passes all season, and they’re finally starting to do it and seeing the results that come with it.
“Unfortunately, it’s five games in, but it’s finally kicking in that that’s all they need to do and they’re going to have success,” Hartwig said. “I’m hoping that this is a springboard, and they can see that it works.”
The Generals had only scored one goal in their first four games. East Rockingham outshot Stonewall Jackson, 20-11. Sharman made 14 saves for the Generals.
Stonewall Jackson lost a lot to graduation and have only five seniors, but Hartwig said he believes his young team can have plenty of success this year.
“We lost a lot of people last year, a lot of key players, but talent-wise, I’ve said it all along, I think we have the most talented all-around team in our district,” Hartwig said. “We just have to play together, put things together.”