WOODSTOCK — Central started off solid on Friday night, but couldn’t keep it going against reigning Class 2 state champion Clarke County.
The Eagles pulled away for a 7-0 Bull Run District boys soccer victory over the Falcons, in a game that was played in a steady rain. The Falcons finished second in the district and region to the Eagles last season.
“We definitely started off on the right foot,” Central boys soccer coach John Trelawny said. “We lost a couple guys to injury and things kind of fell apart from there, got away from us. ...At the end of the day it’s a young team that ultimately will look back. They’ll watch the film, they’ll have their playing experiences, and they’ll grow from it. And that’s ultimately what’s good for the longevity of the program. If there’s a positive from this, we were able to get guys minutes they otherwise might not have, and so we use that as a growing opportunity and we move on.”
The game was scoreless for the first 17 minutes, with neither team able to mount much offense.
Clarke County’s Oakley Staples started off the scoring on a free kick from about 20 yards out. Staples kick bounced around and slid past Central sophomore goalkeeper Wade Gochenour with 23 minutes left in the first half.
Just two minutes later, Staples scored on a penalty kick. Staples fired a shot past Gochenour for a 2-0 lead.
Staples also played a key part in the Eagles’ third goal. He drilled a long ball to teammate Leo Morris, who put it past Gochenour for a 3-0 lead with 16 minutes left in the opening half.
“He’s been fantastic,” Clarke County boys soccer coach Patrick Casey said of Staples. “He came in in the offseason really healthy this year and hasn’t been in the past. So we’re finally getting the best out of him. He’s been a real leader for us. He’s one of our captains this year and is doing everything right on and off the field. So I couldn’t be happier for him, and the goals and assist he got today were fantastic.”
Morris scored on a penalty kick with three minutes left in the first half to give Clarke County a 4-0 halftime lead.
It was the third penalty kick given up by the Falcons in two games. Trelawny said his players need to be more balanced when they lunge on defense. He said some of it is also a lack of experience.
“We need to make sure we grow from that,” Trelawny said. “We’ve got to gain some more experience, just getting more minutes and being more aware of where they are on the field and where their teammates are. So just overall, we need to be more disciplined.”
It was more of the same in the second half as Clarke County’s Chris LeBlanc scored just three minutes into the second half on an assist from Morris.
LeBlanc then assisted Cal Beckett on a goal for a 6-0 lead with 29 minutes left.
Clarke County’s Caden Mercer tapped in a rebound off a shot attempt in the final seconds of the game for the last goal.
One bright spot for the Falcons was the play of Gochenour, who had numerous big saves throughout the contest.
“He’s filling big shoes with (Central 2022 graduate) Aidan (Mercer) graduating last year,” Trelawny said. “I think he has really stepped up and owned it. He was a part of almost all of our offseason workouts. He’s a guy that’s been dedicated all year long. And you could really tell, especially the second half, that he wasn’t going to give anything less than his best — and that was super evident. And I think this is going to do huge things for his confidence.”
Before the game there was a moment of silence for Brent Emmart, the longtime head boys basketball and assistant football coach at Clarke County who died earlier this week.
Casey said it’s been a tough week for the school and his team, and he appreciated Central having the moment of silence before the game.
“It’s an incredibly emotional week for myself and for the boys,” Casey said. “We’ve got a number of guys that played on the basketball team or the football team. All of them had coach Emmart as a P.E. teacher. He was at all of our games. He ran the clock for us at home games. So he was a big part of all the kids lives and the community. So it’s a massive loss for us. I don’t know that it’s sunk in for everybody yet. It’s still a really emotional time, and we just hope that what we do out here can raise some spirit in the community but also honor him.”
The Falcons (0-2, 0-2 Bull Run) had a difficult week on the field, with two losses to two quality opponents in Strasburg and Clarke County. Trelawny said it was good to see top teams at the start of the season and see where his squad is at and what it needs to improve on.
“We took our lumps and bruises, and we’ll build out of this,” Trelawny said. “Fortunately, there’s a lot of time before we see some of these programs again. Our (junior varsity) guys showed out pretty well today, and they had a pretty good performance. So we’ll kind of analyze everything and where we’re at. And see the best way to move forward so we continue to put a competitive product on the field.”
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