Reloaded Falcons soaring on soccer field early in 2017

Ted Poor

WOODSTOCK – Coaches are never happy to see their players go down with injuries but if there was a silver lining to all the bumps and bruises Central High School’s boys soccer team suffered in 2016, it was that it afforded head coach Ted Poor the opportunity to get his younger players some valuable experience. Sitting at 3-1 overall this spring after notching three straight blowout victories, Poor feels the Falcons are reaping those benefits.

“Very cohesive group,” Poor said following practice Wednesday. “We had lost eight starters from last year’s team and I had high hopes that some of the boys would fit in as they got some playing time last year that they wouldn’t have gotten because of the injuries. Fingers crossed, it’s working out. There’s good communication. There’s good ball movement. We’ve got decent speed, if not good speed. And we’ve got scorers.”

Indeed, the Falcons have had little problem finding the goal of late. Since opening the season with a respectable 4-1 road loss to George Mason – a four-time defending state champion – Central has erupted for 21 goals over its last three matches.

Eleven different players have already scored for the Falcons this season, Poor said, led by seven goals from senior forward J.P. Bennett, who has stepped up to fill the void left by the graduation of last season’s leading scorer Korey Wolford (19 goals, 13 assists in 2016). Senior midfielders Armando Carreno and Edwar Calles (who has seven assists) have scored four and three goals, respectively.

The output has been a pleasant sight for Poor, who lost six of his seven top goal scorers from a season ago who accounted for 50 of the Falcons’ 58 goals.

Central has outscored opponents 22-5 this season and 21-1 over the last three matches.

“This is a well-trained group of kids,” Poor said of a squad that also competes together for a local travel team. “Could be stronger than my last year’s team.”

Central’s 2016 team went 12-7 and reached the Region 2A East quarterfinal round, the first regional tournament appearance for the Falcons since 2011.

“I would say this team is probably as fast as last year’s,” Poor said. “Maybe (in) one place a half a step slower. But we’re fast up front.

“The key is our ball control and our passing is so much stronger this year. We’ve got good decisions being made on the field, good vision for people being open, making runs and cutting balls into channels and stuff. I didn’t have that last year and that’s coming from the midfield, so I’ve got that experience and it’s got me pretty excited.”

The level of competition has certainly played into Central’s early season success this spring. The Falcons’ wins have come against Stonewall Jackson (6-0 on March 24), Skyline (7-0 on March 29) and Rappahannock County (8-1 on Monday), three programs that combined for just seven victories last season.

Central returns to action today at home against Clarke County (0-3), a team the Falcons beat twice in three meetings a year ago.

“I’m looking forward to playing Clarke,” Poor said. “I think that’ll be a great measurement.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com