QUICKSBURG -- Stonewall Jackson is peaking at the right time and on Friday night that resulted in some additional hardware -- a second straight regional boys soccer title.
The Generals scored late in the first half and put together a strong second half to beat Altavista, 4-1, in the Region 1B boys soccer final. The game started an hour late due to a lightning delay. The Generals will host Northumberland in the Class 1 state quarterfinals at 5:30 p.m., Tuesday.
“I’m very happy,” Stonewall Jackson junior David Arteaga Loorenzo said, using Stonewall Jackson assistant coach Elmer Lopez as an interpreter. “It’s the second one we’ve won in two years. So I’m very happy about it for the school, the whole team.”
The Generals (13-8) controlled possession throughout most of the first half but had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard. With less than two minutes left, Arteaga Loorenzo was able to draw Altavista goalkeeper Jacob Gowen out of the net and then lofted a perfect shot over Gowen’s head and into the net for a 1-0 lead.
“It was very emotional just because of the team not being able to score at the moment,” Arteaga Loorenzo said. “There was a lot of work to put that goal in the back of the net and we had finally gotten one.”
The Generals came out and played better in the second half. Stonewall Jackson senior midfielder Devin Miller said that the goal at the end of the half helped spark the Generals in the second half.
“I think after we got that we sort of calmed down a little bit,” Miller said. “We possessed more, tried getting more (shot) attempts on.”
Stonewall Jackson sophomore defender Rion Dennison scored on a header off a corner kick by Orly Espinal just two minutes into the second half for a 2-0 lead.
“Me and Orly (Espinal) came out here about 30 minutes before the game, before they said there was going to be a delay, and we just wanted to practice our corners together,” Dennison said. “I think it helped. He saw me going in on it and I jumped a little high. I had to put my head a little far down, but it was exciting.”
Espinal added a goal with about 17 minutes left for a 3-0 lead. Altavista’s Adam Schubert scored to cut the lead to 3-1 with five minutes left in the game. Arteaga Loorenzo scored on a penalty kick in the final two minutes to put the finishing touch on another regional crown for the Generals.
Miller said getting back to the Class 1 state tournament, where the Generals lost in the state quarterfinals last year, was a big goal for the team this season.
“From day one, we figured if we want to go back we got to work hard and we could get there again,” Miller said.
Stonewall Jackson senior goalkeeper Blake McCourt replaced junior Christian Hess in goal for the last eight minutes of Friday’s game. It was McCourt’s first action this season after being out with an injury previously.
The Generals went into a bit of a tailspin midway through the season, but Miller said the team is playing their best soccer right now.
“I think now the team is starting to gel together at just the right time,” Miller said. “As long as we stick to doing what we’re doing and know what we’re doing -- I think we’ll be just fine.”
Stonewall Jackson coach Matt Burgwald said what makes this year’s regional championship more special is how young his squad is. The Generals have seven seniors on the squad, but also start five sophomores and one junior.
“The seniors and the younger players are really meshing well together,” Burgwald said. “The seniors are pulling up the younger ones and actually some of the younger ones are showing what they have. We are excited at all of the young players that are really stepping up and have done a great job all season and tonight.”
The Generals saw a 2-0 lead slip away in last year’s state quarterfinal loss to Rappahannock High School, a game they eventually lost in penalty kicks.
“I think we’ll handle ourselves better,” Miller said. “I think we’re not going to let what happened to us last year happen to us again. We let up and that’s something we’ve learned this year not to do. You’ve got to go 100 percent the entire game.”