Central falls to Stuarts Draft in regional boys soccer

STUARTS DRAFT — Central was unable to take advantage of its opportunities on Tuesday and it proved costly.

The Falcons fell, 2-0, to Stuarts Draft in the Region 2A East boys soccer quarterfinals.

“I think we had an outstanding season,” Central coach Ted Poor said. “It was a great defensive season as well as offensive season. It was wonderful, and I would have loved to have moved on but sometimes it doesn’t happen.”

The Cougars scored in the final minute of the first half to break a scoreless tie.

Stuarts Draft’s JonPaul Rader scored on a free kick from just outside the penalty box with 13 seconds left in the half. The senior blasted the ball past Central goalkeeper Dean Woodwell for a 1-0 lead.

“It’s huge,” Stuarts Draft coach Paige Adams said. “It gives you a little confidence boost and it gives you a little bit to go on. We didn’t want to rely on that the rest of the game.”

The Falcons (13-4-2) had a strong opportunity in the first minute of the game. Stuarts Draft’s Jacob Sauder was called for a handball in the penalty box resulting in a Central penalty kick.

Central’s J.P. Bennett took the penalty kick, but Stuarts Draft goalkeeper Ryan Thompson made the save to keep the game scoreless.

Both teams had chances throughout the first half. Stuarts Draft’s David Oakes drilled a shot just off the cross bar from about 30 yards out with eight minutes left in the opening half.

“We didn’t take advantage of the wind in the first half and that was unfortunate,” Poor said.

Central had another great opportunity with about 34 minutes left in the game. Central’s Logan Baker missed wide right on a wide-open goal.

The Cougars (18-0) added to their lead with 19 minutes left. Stuarts Draft’s Jacob Pacheco scored on a breakaway to give the Cougars a 2-0 lead.

“Jacob Pacheco, he just saw the opportunity and he was able to capitalize when it made itself available,” Adams said.

Just a minute later the Falcons suffered another blow as senior Edwar Calles was given a red card for an altercation with Stuarts Draft’s William Wilkinson. The Falcons had to play the rest of game short-handed.

“We didn’t give up,” Poor said. “Losing a player we still were playing and creating opportunities,” Poor said. “The team had great spirt, great friendships among each and every one of them.”

With eight minutes left, Thompson made a diving save on a free kick attempt by Armando Carreno from just outside the penalty box.

“Our keeper played a fantastic game,” Adams said. “Second game in a row where he’s just been in the right spot at the right time.”

The Cougars play host to Nandua today in the regional semifinals with a Group 2A state berth on the line.

The Falcons lose 10 seniors to graduation, and Poor said they will be missed.

“It was a good season,” Poor said. “I’m sorry to see this group of boys go, but next year’s a new year.”