Pioneers knock off Warriors boys soccer

STEPHENS CITY – On a churned up field, Millbrook’s Brian McGwire seemed to be the only one to really move Tuesday night as the Pioneers’ knocked off Northwestern District/Conference 21 West opponent Sherando 4-1, sending both teams to the conference tournament.

The Pioneers (8-4-3 overall, 6-2-1 district) will close out their season Wednesday night at home against Skyline, while the Warriors (6-7-2, 4-4 district) celebrated senior night at Arrowhead Stadium in their last game.

Millbrook, which took two of three boys’ soccer matches from their Frederick County neighbor, will host Woodgrove on Thursday in the first round of the Conference 21 West playoffs. Meanwhile, Sherando will visit James Wood on the same day.

“We both knew we were going and what seeds we were coming into the game tonight,” said Millbrook coach Keith Kilmer, “so both of us celebrated liberally. It was a fun game, but now we get ready for real play.”

It rained earlier in the day but the weather had halted and conditions on the field seemed optimum by game time. As play wore on, however, so did the natural turf. A large puddle formed in front of the Sherando bench and there were muddy spots around the field.

Still, McGwire, a senior co-captain, did not let it bother him.

“The key is to be always thinking where you want to be and then get there,” said McGwire.

“He’s smart,” added Kilmer, “but he’s also athletic. He knows where to go and he gets there.”

He scored two goals and took six shots on goal through the rest of the night.

With his two goals, McGwire has 27 markers on the season, “a brilliant one,” according to his coach.

“I just work as hard as I can. You put the work in, you get open later,” said McGwire, the night’s standout soccer player.

Sherando, which played and lost at conference kingpin Handley on Monday night, was performing without playmaker Sean Buono. The junior forward is a three-year standout for Sherando coach Pat Anderson. He was injured against the Judges and was on crutches Tuesday night.

“I don’t know whether we’ll get him back this week or not,” said Anderson. “He did something (Monday) night and we’ve got to get it checked out.”

Without Buono in the lineup, his scoring partner, junior Seth Wade, was without his co-conspirator. Wade faced double- and triple-teams throughout the night and only got off one shot.

“That’s soccer,” said Anderson, “one goes down. It’s the next man up.”

McGwire took a pass and dribbled in an easy goal at the mouth of the structure to give Millbrook the quick 1-0 lead in the second minute.

Nathan Wagner then took a short pass and nudged the ball in past the Millbrook goalkeeper to tie the affair at 1 in the eighth minute for Sherando.

Jonathan Richards had an easy breakway, but missed wide left for Millbrook in the 14th minute.

Sherando’s Jack Flanagan had an equally desirable shot, head on to the Millbrook goal, but left it wanting in the 18th minute.

Another attempt came when Max Polio shoved a through ball at Flanagan, whose shot also missed in the 21st minute.

McGwire scored his second goal of the night on a header in the 37th minute for a 2-1 Millbrook advantage. That was the score at halftime.

For Millbrook’s next score, Paul Blanco fed Richards with a perfect fast-paced pass. Richards scored in the 42nd minute for a 3-1 Millbrook advantage.

Blanco continued the Pioneers’ scoring in the 73rd minute as he beat his Sherando defender to the goal. The Millbrook junior then came back the night’s final goal.

Millbrook peppered the Sherando goal with 20 shots on goal compared to 11 for the host.