Athlete of the Week: Skyline’s Jones using speed to great success on soccer field
FRONT ROYAL – Skyline High School’s boys soccer coach Steve Carey insists his team’s offensive attack is often more intricate that simply punching the ball ahead to forward Brody Jones.
The Hawks want to work the ball up from the back to generate scoring opportunities, Carey said Wednesday, or swing the ball out wide to set up a crossing pass into the box to the head of one of their big men. But when Skyline is in a pinch, or what Carey refers to as a “bailout situation,” sometimes the Hawks’ most effective strategy is to simply send the ball over the defense and let Jones take care of the rest.
After all, that method allows Jones to put to full use his greatest asset – his speed.
“It’s everything, man,” Jones said of his ability to streak past opposing back lines. “Without my speed – I’m still a good player without my speed but my speed really is what I use to really get to the goal and beat defenses.”
In three matches last week Jones, The Northern Virginia Daily’s Athlete of the Week for May 8-14, showed off that speed while striking for five goals in that span as the Hawks picked up a pair of wins.
Jones scored single goals against Luray (May 8) and James Wood (last Friday) in the Hawks’ 10-2 win and 6-1 loss, respectively, but it was against crosstown rival Warren County on May 10 that he made his biggest impact.
In that match against the Wildcats, Jones erupted for his third hat trick of the season to pull the Hawks from a 3-0 halftime deficit, scoring his third and final goal of the night in overtime to give Skyline a 4-3 victory.
The win gave the Hawks their first regular-season sweep over Warren County in the program’s history.
“It was huge, man,” Jones said.
“All the games matter but that one is just on top of the schedule, for me personally. … That’s the one that I circle on the calendar. That’s the one I need to win, Warren County.”
Moments after the victory, Jones credited teammate and fellow junior Logan Porterfield for rallying the Hawks with a passionate halftime speech. But it was Jones who provided the necessary jolt on the field when he gathered a through pass from senior midfielder Matias Lozano behind the Warren County defense and scored on a one-on-one opportunity against goalkeeper Michael Moore just 90 seconds into the second half.
“We talked before about Logan giving the halftime speech, but Brody being able to break out and get that one early, I think that was the momentum changer right there,” Carey said. “Warren County couldn’t come out and get comfortable again. We made them uncomfortable quicker, and with his speed and putting that in there quickly enough, I think that’s what helped turn the tide.”
Jones scored again with 17 minutes to play in regulation off a cross from Ryan Scott – who scored the Hawks’ second goal of the half to pull Skyline within one – to tie the game and force overtime.
In the second five-minute overtime period, Jones again gathered a through ball from Lozano for another one-on-one chance and converted in stoppage time for the winning goal.
Jones said he gives credit to his teammates for each goal that he’s scored this season, adding that he’s sharpened his ability to finish around the goal this season.
“My first touch mainly, and placing the ball where it needs to be to score a goal,” Jones said of his biggest growth as a player. “I’m trying to put that ball in the back corner of the net every time. Last year I would just kick the ball but this year I’m just trying to get everything – my first touch is good. I need to just finish strong.”
Jones is also become more of a role model for his younger teammates this spring, according to Carey, who said that some of the Hawks are seeing the advantage of complementing speed with other skill sets.
“I try to set an example with my work ethic, coming in to practice and putting in the most work,” Jones said. “I just hope my teammates look up to me doing that.”
Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or firstname.lastname@example.org