Eagles’ offense flows against ‘Cats

FRONT ROYAL — Clarke County exploded for three goals — its highest single-game production of the season — to outlast Warren County 3-1 Monday night in Bull Run District boys soccer.

The Eagles (2-7-1 district/overall) had come off two shutout losses to the two best teams — record-wise — in the league when first-place George Mason (12-0 district heading into Monday night) and William Monroe (9-1 BRD before Monday’s games) swatted them by an 8-0 overall score.

But in last Friday night’s 4-0 defeat at the hands of the Mustangs, Clarke coach Scott House began experimenting, a prospect that led to the victory over the Wildcats (2-7-2 district/overall) on the chilly pitch.

“We did some new things, spreading our strikers out, which made gaps for us to run through. It helped us, I think,” said Clarke’s Jacob Peterson, who accounted for one of the three goals by the Eagles.

“We’ve been trying to figure out ways to score because — until tonight — we had only scored [five] goals all season,” said House. “We’ve been working on this, trying to help free our wings. We spread [the strikers] to spread out [Warren’s] back line. We also switched Ian Dors from defense to offense to get a little more speed up front.”

The new alignment seemed to work. Peterson, Dors and Henry Leta all scored for Clarke County. After a 1-1 first-half tie, the Eagles dropped two goals on the Wildcats in the first 29 of the second half’s 40 minutes.

“That’s the most goals we’ve scored this season in one game. We’ve kind of been at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to offense in our region. So hopefully, this will get us out of the rut,” House said.

These two Bull Run District rivals originally were scheduled to meet here on April 14, but the contest was rained out. Played as it was, it closed out the first half of the league schedule.

“Hopefully, this will help us turn things around,” Peterson said.

The defeat was not due to the Wildcats’ lack of effort. Having lost three of their last four matches, coach Manual Alban’s team was aggressive from the start.

Led by Nathaniel Lucas, Ricky Platter and Matt Moore — each of whom fired two goal attempts at Clarke keeper Seth Mayo — the Wildcats outshot their foes 7-2 in the first 40 minutes.

Unfortunately, for Warren, only Moore’s penalty kick got through to tie the first half score, 1-1, in the 37th minute. Peterson’s penalty kick in the 14th minute put Clarke ahead by a score.

Only Dors and Peterson shot at Warren keeper Josh Butler, with Peterson’s attempt slipping through.

The second half was a similar story for the Wildcats — lots of shots on goal with no goals to show for it. They tried nine attempts in the second half compared to just four for their visitors, the issue being that Clarke made two attempts count.

In total, Warren was one of 16 attempts for the night, while Clarke was good on three of their eight tries.

Leta’s try from 12 feet was good in the 52nd minute and then Dors came through in the 69th minute for insurance.

Dors made one of three attempts, Leta was one-of-one and Peterson was good on one-of-four attempts.

Offensively, Warren’s Lucas, Platter and Tristan Ward attempted three shots each with no luck. Drew Wilson and Jorge’ Figueroa each took a couple of shots at goal.

The prominence of Warren County on the Clarke County defensive side of the pitch in both halves was not lost on House.

“One thing we’ve been able to do this year is defend,” House said. “They had a bunch of shots on us, but we were able to push them away.”