By Jeff Nations
QUICKSBURG -- The final score was reassuring, but the signs leading up to that final margin were even more positive for Stonewall Jackson's boys soccer team on Thursday night.
That the Generals beat Shenandoah District rival Page County 6-1 was no surprise -- Stonewall has long been the stronger program, even though the Panthers are closing the gap. For Generals coach Caleb Golladay, seeing his squad playing the type of soccer the program has long been known for was just as comforting as the victory.
"That's one thing we work on a lot -- we play a lot of possession in practice, work on one or two touches," Golladay said. "That's what I want these guys to do on the field. The teams we've had in the past knew how to play possession ball, and that's what Stonewall soccer has been made of is possession-style soccer."
That possession attack opened up a slew of scoring chances for Stonewall Jackson (5-4, 5-2 Shenandoah), with both Roberto Cardoso Jr. and Jonas Jacuinde finishing the night with hat tricks after scoring three goals apiece.
Cardoso, the Generals' leading scorer on last season's Group A state runner-up, tallied his first hat trick of the season. He got started on it just seven minutes into the game, picking up a perfect through ball from teammate Pedro Jacuinde for a one-on-one chance against Panthers goalkeeper Travis Mayes. Cardoso finished the chance with a rising shot into the left upper corner of the net.
"My teammates are a great help," Cardoso said. "They put balls where I just have to tap it in for a goal. I guess I'm getting my touch back and I'm getting back to where I was last year."
Cardoso struck again with 16:43 left in the first half, this time turning a cross from Adam Goodier into the Generals' second goal of the night.
Cardoso wasn't all about scoring, though -- just more than a minute after his second goal, the senior forward found Jonas Jacuinde in the penalty box for a chance. Jonas Jacuinde punched in a shot off the left post.
Jonas Jacuinde and Cardoso teamed up again with 9:54 left in the half, as Cardoso showed off his passing ability with a pinpoint through ball to Jacuinde for another goal.
"I didn't even look back for it," Jacuinde said. "I just knew he was going to send it to me and I just kept my cool there once I touched the ball. I knew I was going to score once I touched the ball."
Page County (2-6, 2-5 Shenandoah) got one goal back with 19:44 left in the game on Bradley Dovel's chip shot off a long ball.
Five minutes later, Cardoso got his hat trick. Jonas Jacuinde tallied his first career hat trick with 7:04 to play when he scored off a penalty kick to complete the scoring.
"There's still more room to improve," Jacuinde said. "Some of the new kids who've come up, they've still got some room to improve. They're getting used to the speed and how we play."
For Golladay, the victory was tangible proof that the Generals are doing just that.
"We've been playing a whole lot better lately," Golladay said. "Tonight I just told them to come out and try to finish this game, play as well as they can and pass the ball like they know how to do."
Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or firstname.lastname@example.org>