Stonewall torches Dragons, earns first state berth since 2013
QUICKSBURG – Stonewall Jackson’s boys soccer team struggled to only a handful of wins over the past two seasons. Now the Generals are heading to the state tournament.
Hosting No. 4 Appomattox Regional Governor’s School in the Region 1B tournament semifinals on Wednesday afternoon, the top-seeded Generals thumped the visiting Dragons, 7-0, to advance to Friday’s regional championship game and book a spot in next week’s VHSL Class 1 state tournament.
It marks the first time since 2013 that the Generals have qualified for the state tournament, and while first-year head coach Matt Burgwald said Stonewall’s most recent success is important in that it puts Shenandoah County “on the map,” it means even more for a program once known for its prowess on the pitch.
“It means the world to Stonewall,” said Burgwald, whose team will host Riverheads in Friday’s regional championship. “I think that it’s rising from the ashes. It was a program that was struggling and the boys have done a really good job of jelling together and becoming more competitive.”
Wednesday’s victory displayed the blend of talent the Generals (12-8-1) have up and down their roster this spring. Seniors Juan Arrocena-Jacuinde and Carlos Romero-Hernandez combined for three goals and three assists. Freshman Angel Arteaga Loorenzo scored twice and also dished out an assist, and classmate Orly Espinal and sophomore David Arteaga Loorenzo each scored a goal.
It was a senior, Arrocena-Jacuinde, who got the scoring started for the Generals when he cleaned up a slow roller that Angel Loorenzo sent trickling toward an open goal. Arrocena-Jacuinde came racing into the penalty box with a defender on his hip and sent the ball into the net for a 1-0 lead 14 minutes into the match.
It was the first of four goals in a nine-minute span for Stonewall.
“We knew that we had to play hard to get to the regional finals, we knew we had to win to get to states, so we thought of just playing our last game ever,” said Arrocena-Jacuinde, who also had two assists in the match. “We tried to keep that mentality. We started off slow but then after a while we started getting the momentum, started scoring goals.”
Arrocena-Jacuinde’s short crossing pass to Angel Loorenzo less than two minutes later set up a one-on-one chance for the freshman, who converted the Generals’ second goal. Espinal scored three minutes after that when he followed up on the rebound after Romero-Hernandez’s shot attempt clanged off the right post.
Romero-Hernandez made it 4-0 in the 23rd minute when he took a pass from senior Zakari Hottle, stepped over a fallen defender near the top of the box, weaved around another ARGS player and scored, erasing any hint of the slow start that marked the first 13 minutes against the Dragons (5-11).
“On many occasions this team has allowed an opponent to really pounce on us early and then it causes the boys to wake up,” Burgwald said. “This team (ARGS) played their heart out, they did the best that they could do, and I think the boys were trying to be courteous and respectful in their style of play. However, they still had one job that they needed to do, so it was kind of a blend. Once they realized what we had to do – we needed to finish strong, the best that we could, and then they did what they’re supposed to do.”
David Loorenzo finished off a nice passing combination with a goal four minutes into the second half off an assist from Romero-Hernandez, and Angel Loorenzo added his second goal two minutes later to stretch the lead to 6-0.
Romero-Hernandez capped the scoring with his second goal with 12:36 left to play.
Stonewall attempted 35 total shots in the win, including 22 on goal. ARGS finished with just two shot attempts, both of which were blocked up by Generals junior goalkeeper Blake McCourt.
“We weren’t doing that great in possession, they had a couple breakthroughs but we were able to break them down,” Arrocena-Jacuinde said. “Once we broke them down, we knew we had more confidence just to pass it around and try to get more goals.”
Next week’s state tournament appearance will be the first since the Generals competed for the Group A state championship under the old VHSL format. Stonewall lost that match, 2-1, to George Mason.
“It’s great to be competitive with other teams and have the opportunity to compete in the state tournament,” said Romero-Hernandez, one of four seniors on this year’s squad.
Friday’s Region 1B championship game, scheduled for 2 p.m., will determine seeding for next week’s Class 1 state tournament, and the winner will host a state quarterfinal game next Tuesday. Stonewall fell to Riverheads, the region’s second seed, twice during the regular season by scores of 4-2 and 2-1.
“Riverheads has some really talented players,” Burgwald said. “… They’ve had our number. We have to play them differently than what we have and hope for the best result that we can get.”