WOODSTOCK – Central’s boys soccer team could’ve made it four straight trips to the Bull Run District tournament championship game and added a home game to their schedule in the upcoming Region 2B tournament. Clarke County spoiled the Falcons’ quest for both of those achievements on Tuesday evening.
Hosting the third-seeded Eagles in the Bull Run District semifinals, No. 2 Central fell behind early and saw its tournament participation end after one game with a 4-1 loss. The Falcons return to action in next Monday’s Region 2B quarterfinals, though they’ll be on the road as the third seed out of the Bull Run.
Clarke County, which earned one of the district’s two home games in the regional quarterfinals, travels to perennial Class 2 power George Mason on Thursday for the Bull Run District championship.
Central was outshot 20-13 in Tuesday’s loss and fell behind just 13 minutes into the contest. The two teams had battled to a scoreless draw on May 9, and in their first meeting of the regular season on April 23, the Falcons had edged Clarke County, 2-1.
“We just didn’t play our game, period,” Central head coach Ted Poor said after Tuesday’s loss. “And they played aggressive. They deserved to win.
“We did the same thing to them last year. We lost to them both times (in the regular season) and we beat them in the playoffs. That’s just the way it goes.”
The Eagles (8-8-2) found the net early in the teams’ third meeting, with Justin Toone and Evan Nichols teaming up on a give-and-go that left Toone with a breakaway chance against Central keeper Jacob Fletcher (five saves), which the Clarke County sophomore finished off for a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute.
Toone’s short cross along the goal line to the front of the net three minutes later set up Jonathan Genda’s goal for a 2-0 Clarke County lead.
Central (10-5-1) went into halftime trailing by a goal, but Cody Sowers’ header at the end of a Logan Reid throw-in pushed the Eagles’ lead to 3-1 in the 53rd minute, and Raul Viza-Fernandez’s sliding shot at the right post in stoppage time put the cap on Clarke County’s night.
Central’s offense, which took a hit when it lost junior captain Gerson Sorto Lopez to injury late in the first half, generated only three shot attempts in the second half. The Falcons needed a spectacular shot from sophomore Alex Lopez, who fired the ball past Clarke keeper Brandon Mayo from about 30 yards out along the sideline with 15 minutes left in the first half, to score their lone goal of the match.
Mayo had six saves in the win for Clarke County, which had nine shots on goal to Central’s seven.
“It didn’t help losing Gerson. He’s been hurt all year long and I thought I finally got him back,” Poor said. “But we just didn’t perform. There was no hustle. There was no life. There was no communication. I give (the Eagles) credit, they deserved it. We didn’t.”
The loss likely will put Central on the same side of the regional tournament bracket with Mason unless Clarke County, which beat Rappahannock County in Monday’s district quarterfinals, can pull off the upset of the defending Class 2 state champs.
A Mason win in Thursday’s Bull Run District championship game would mean Central potentially would have to get through its regional quarterfinal match and then a semifinal matchup with the Mustangs to qualify for the state tournament.
“I thought they’d come out and really show some spirit today,” Poor said of the Falcons, who will make their fourth straight regional tournament appearance. “But I think sometimes when you play a game ahead (of the district semifinals), like last year because we finished third we had to play Rappahannock (in the quarterfinals), and guys got into a rhythm and stuff. And here, the last time we played was (May 14). And we had a great game down at Strasburg, the best game I think we’ve had all year long – ball movement, everything, the passing. But today we couldn’t string passes together, and you’re not gonna win anything if you can’t string passes together.”