Falcons fall short at home in rematch against Mustangs

WOODSTOCK – Central High School’s boys soccer team is still seeking that elusive win over state powerhouse George Mason after coming up on the short end of a one-goal match at home Thursday evening.

In a game that featured little offense as both teams battled steady rainfall throughout the Conference 35/Bull Run District contest, the visiting Mustangs cashed in on a penalty kick midway through the first half and rode the score to a 1-0 win.

The win locked up the top seed in the conference tournament for the Mustangs (9-2-1, 6-1 Conference 35), who were forced to forfeit Tuesday’s victory over Madison County after mistakenly using an ineligible player, according to head coach Frank Spinello.

Thursday’s loss was just the second of the season for the Falcons (9-2-2, 4-2 Conference 35), who fell at George Mason, 4-1, in their season opener back in March but had a chance to claim the conference’s top seed with a win in the rematch with the four-time defending state champs.

“I think we played a pretty well-matched game,” Central senior defender Elijah Williams said. “That PK was unlucky on us, you know, but other than that (it was) an amazing game by both teams.

“Honestly in the past three years that I’ve played I believe this is one of the best games we’ve played with them. And I think we’re just getting even closer to being matched as we go on. The playoffs are gonna be fun.”

The game’s lone goal came via Wesley Quill’s penalty kick in the 19th minute, set up when Central goalkeeper Dean Woodwell collided with Mason midfielder David Martinez as both went for the ball on a cross pass deep in the penalty box.

Central head coach Ted Poor called the referee’s decision to award a penalty kick to the Mustangs for Woodwell’s contact with Martinez a “bogus call.”

“(The referee) said (Woodwell) played the body. Dean said he got the ball,” Poor said.

“(Woodwell) said he was in the (six-yard box), he made contact with the ball. In a game like this you don’t give a penalty kick. I think that’s bull.”

Spinello backed the ruling by the referee, calling it “obviously a legit call.”

“David Martinez was in the box, held his position. It was a great cross coming in, he went straight up and was about to win the ball when the keeper went over his back,” Spinello said. “(Martinez) did what he was supposed to do. A lot of players would cower in that situation and kind of try to protect themselves but he went up strong and won the penalty for us.”

Neither team mustered much in the way of offensive opportunities for the rest of the night.

Central’s defense, a strength for the Falcons all season, limited Mason to just one shot attempt outside of the penalty kick in the first half. The Mustangs fired six shots in the second half, only two of which were on goal and snatched up by Woodwell (three saves).

The Falcons attempted just one shot in the second half after shooting four times in the first 40 minutes.

“We knew coming in with the field conditions and the weather that it was gonna be a battle of wills,” Spinello said, “so we just wanted to do the stuff that wasn’t gonna show up in the score book and do the little things that make a difference.”

To compound the challenges that come with playing on a wet field, the Falcons lost leading scorer J.P. Bennett just three minutes into the match after he suffered a head-to-head collision with Mustangs defender Liam Fribley. Neither would return to the match after walking off under their own power.

“The defense is actually solid and they keep the other team honest. I mean if we’d had that speed up front, if I could’ve had J.P. feeding that ball in, it would’ve been a different story, I think,” said Poor, whose team also played without leading assist man Edwar Calles on Thursday. “But that’s the way it goes.”

Central, which has three regular season matches remaining, returns to action next Tuesday against Warren County.

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