Generals ready for boys soccer state quarterfinals

Stonewall's David Arteaga Loorenzo, left, and Carlos Romero-Hernandez embrace after Romero-Hernandez scored a goal during the first half of the Region 1B Championship game last week in Quicksburg. The Generals host Rappahannock today in the Class 1 state quarterfinals. Rich Cooley/Daily

Stonewall Jackson’s boys soccer team has made very big strides in a very short time this season. The Generals will look to take another step forward tonight.

The Generals host Rappahannock High School tonight in the Class 1 state tournament quarterfinals at 6 p.m.

Stonewall Jackson struggled to win games last season and the Generals are now just three wins away from a state title.

“We’ve far exceeded what my goals were and my expectations,” Stonewall Jackson coach Matt Burgwald said in a phone interview Monday. “I just wanted to be competitive. I didn’t have any idea that once they bought into my formation and system that they could excel as they’ve done. I’m thankful for that.”

Burgwald said that he expects a very tough game from Rappahannock.The Raiders (15-2-1) were the Region A runners-up, losing to Middlesex on penalty kicks in the region final.

“Rappahannock is a very physical, strong team,” Burgwald said. “They’re a very good team, good passing, many players to watch. They’re a very good diverse team. So they’re going to be rough.”

The Generals did not practice on Monday as Shenandoah County Public Schools were not allowed to hold practices due to flooding over the weekend.

“That’s kind of a killer for us,” Burgwald said. “We’re going to do the best that we can do. That’s all we can do.”

The Generals (13-8-1) won the Class 1, Region B title last week with a 6-2 victory over Shenandoah District rival Riverheads in the final. The Generals had lost twice to Riverheads in the regular season.

Burgwald said he was very proud of the way his team performed against Riverheads. He said that the Generals have continued to improve throughout the season.

“I think that we played much more competitive as we’ve managed to go into district play and into regional play,” Burgwald said. “We have managed to at least gell together more. Where I noticed that some of the schools tended to fall off a little bit as the kids started thinking about summer. Our kids have definitely stayed committed to it.”

The Generals have been led offensively all season by senior Carlos Romero-Hernandez, who has an area-best 28 goals and 15 assists. Freshman Angel Arteaga Loorenzo has 15 goals, and senior Juan Arrocena-Jacuinde has six goals and 10 assists for the Generals.

Another key aspect for the Generals this season has been the play of their defense. They have had four shutouts and are allowing only 2.3 goals per game.

“The defense has been paramount,” Burgwald said. “In soccer it’s not about a real high scoring game, it’s more or less about limiting your opponent – not allowing them to have as many opportunities on your goal. I think we’ve done much better about that recently. The kids really bought into my system. And we’ve worked really, really hard for them to have competent knowledge of what to to do once they have the ball. And they’ve done great.”

The Generals are 9-3 at home this season and have won five straight home contests. Burgwald said that being at home for tonight’s game should help give the Generals a lift.

“Home field has been really good to us this year,” he said “How cool is it that we have kids coming from all of the local high school to root on their local team? We’ve got parents and fans and family members that have been coming out in huge numbers to really cheer on the kids. I think it’s phenomenal that soccer has gotten some light to it and is being appreciated by our local community. And we sure appreciate our local community coming out to cheer on the kids.”