Falcons advance to regionals

Korey Wolford

BERRYVILLE – Central’s boys soccer team is finally at almost full strength and it showed on Tuesday night.

The Falcons controlled the game throughout and defeated Clarke County, 4-1, in the Conference 35 boys soccer tournament semifinals. The win gives the Falcons their first regional berth in five years.

“It’s very exciting,” Central coach Ted Poor said. “The boys deserve it. This was our goal – to get to the regions. Then anything can happen.”

Central has been battling a variety of injuries for a good portion of the season, but is now healthy at the right time.

Poor said that he only has one player out right now due to injury and everyone else is available.

Ivan Alvarado

“It gives us more versatility on the top,” Poor said. “With the attack I can play more on the outside wings and put pressure out there. … It just gives me more tools to work with.”

Central split its two games with Clarke County during the regular season.

The Falcons controlled possession throughout the game, and was able to score two goals within a three-minute span in the first half.

Central’s Korey Wolford scored a goal with about 18 minutes left in the first half. Clarke County goalkeeper Seth Mayo couldn’t hang onto a shot by Central’s Julian Higgs, and Wolford was able to knock it in. Mayo was out of the goal, and the ball just slowly trickled in off Wolford’s foot.

“I kicked the ball and I hit the ground, and I was laying there looking at it. I was like, man I hope that goes in. It managed to roll in finally,” Wolford said.

Elmer Lopez

Just three minutes later, Central’s Ivan Alvarado scored on an assist from Elmer Lopez.

“I gave the ball to Elmer, and Elmer gave me a really nice pass back to me across the defense,” Alvarado said. “He brought the defense towards the center, and he made me open. So that was good on Elmer’s part. Then I happily got it on my left foot to score it.”

Clarke County (9-7-1) responded with a goal by Zephir Leary with about eight minutes left in the first half to cut the lead to 2-1.

Central (12-5) didn’t waste any time in the second half to create some breathing room. Lopez scored on an assist from Wolford for a 3-1 lead less than two minutes into the second half.

“We came out and we knew they were going to be pushing hard, because they were only one behind. So they could have caught us,” Wolford said. “It was really big that Elmer put that into the net, because once you get two up you’re in good position.”

Wolford stretched the lead to 4-1 on a goal with 18 minutes left in the game. Once again his goal came off a shot by Higgs.

“Julian got a free kick outside the box,” Wolford said. “He hit the crossbar, but I was there to follow and put it in the back of the net.”

The Falcons also played solid defense, including a couple solid saves by Central goalkeeper Dean Woodwell.

The players said they were very happy with how they played.

“I definitely think that we passed way better than what we usually do,” Alvarado said. “We actually gave it to feet, instead of bombing it up the center of the field every time we got a chance. We got the opportunities and we made something out of it.”

The Falcons have a tough task ahead of them. They will play at top-seeded George Mason on Thursday in the tournament final. George Mason, the defending Group 2A state champion, has lost only one game this year, just two weeks ago to William Monroe. Central will then play in the Region 2A East quarterfinals on Monday.

“We beat William Monroe, and William Monroe beat George Mason,” Wolford said of playing George Mason. “So there’s always the chance that we can beat them if we really work for it. … I think if we play like we did today, really hold ourselves and work the ball, I think we can definitely beat a lot of teams.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com