Rams hold off Wildcats in boys soccer

FRONT ROYAL– Strasburg High School’s boys’ soccer team connected on four of six goal attempts Tuesday night in the first half and made them stand up in a Bull Run District victory over Warren County High on a perfect spring night at Wildcat Stadium.

The 5-4 victory evened the Rams’ overall record at 6-6 while it is 4-6 in district play. The Wildcats dropped to 2-8 Bull Run, 2-9 overall.

Strasburg has whipped Warren County three consecutive times on the pitch, dating back to the second game of the 2016 season.

“That’s probably the most exciting game we’ve played since the opener (a 3-2 loss at crosstown rival Skyline High). We didn’t come up with the win, but we got close. Our (modus operandi) this time around (in the schedule) was to finish those goals, not just to take them,” said Warren Coach Shane Lilly, in his second season.

Indeed, the Wildcats took a whopping 17 goal shot attempts, making four.

The difference was, the Rams tried just 10 shots for the game, making five.

“Good goal-shooters,” is how Strasburg coach Joel Ross, the 10-year SHS coach, described the scene when asked about the high number of goal shots. “That, and we have some pretty good people leading them with assists.”

Junior forward Vinny Volpini scored twice on four goal tries, while Jacob Knapp, Kyle Tiemeyer and defender Logan Smalls (penalty kick) rounded out the scoring for the Rams.

Senior Jakob Cornwell led Warren County with two goals. Parker Meltvedt and Paul Buono contributed to the remainder of the scores

Strasburg had to outbattle Warren County through two deficits in the first half.

The Wildcats led 1-0 on a goal by Meltvedt and 2-1 on a left-footed boot of 35 feet by senior forward Cornwell, but each time the Rams came back.

Meltvedt got the scoring going in the 10th minute when he scooped up an assist pass from senior Michael Moore and, moving toward the goal away from the stadium fieldhouse, slammed home the initial score.

In the 15th minute, Tiemeyer tied up the tussle at 1 when he chased down an errant pass and sent the ball into the upper left corner of the goal.

At 1 apiece, Cornwell collected the first of his two goals of the night. He boomed it from about 35 feet out left-footed (he uses his right, too) for the 2-1 advantage in the 17th minute.

Then junior Jacob Knapp found Volpini and the latter fired a shot to the Warren goalkeeper’s left, just out of reach of the defender’s hand.

That made it 2-all in the 18th minute.

Just minutes later, the team of Knapp and Volpini came together a second time with the same result-a goal and the first Rams’ lead of the night, 3-2.

Knapp got knocked down just in front of the Warren County goalkeeper and Smalls was awarded the penalty kick. His made it 4-2 at the 27-minute mark.

Smalls is a senior defender for coach Ross, but is the designated penalty kicker.

“That’s his job; he’s not just back there,” said the Strasburg mentor.

Warren County would not back down. Moore took a lazy pass and popped it high enough to get it over the Strasburg goalkeeper. It was 4-3 at intermission.

The Wildcats peppered goals at the Rams to start the second without much benefit.

Meltvedt, Paul Buono (twice) and Figueroa all had shots on goal without scoring.

Then Ram senior Jacob Walker led Volpini to the latter’s second goal in the 63rd minute for a 5-3 advantage.

Again the ‘Cats had their chances.

Meltvedt, Ben Werner and Figueroa had their shots on goal, but only Figueroa could crease the net. His goal made it 5-4 in the 68th minute.

Give Strasburg goalkeeper Brandon Jenkins credit on several of the Warren County attempts (10 saves).

Jenkins, a senior, was also aided by defenders Smalls, Adam Knapp and Angel Hernandez.

Smalls and Hernandez — particularly in the first half — and Adam Knapp in the second 40 minutes made life hard on the Warren County shooters, matching them step-for-step down the field.

“The idea was to limit their space on the attack,” said Smalls.

Contact Jim Laise at sports@nvdaily.com