FRONT ROYAL – Warren County’s defense held strong for over 25 minutes of Monday night’s contest with James Wood.
However, the barrage of shots the Colonels were firing was finally too much for the Wildcats to defend. James Wood went on to a 6-0 boys soccer victory over Warren County.
“The guys had a difficult time trying to get their heads in the game tonight,” Warren County coach Thomas Hodge said. “I’m not sure if its players are ready to be on their spring break or if they mentally checked out a little bit.”
The Colonels (6-4) came out firing shots at the Wildcats with five shots in the first four minutes of the game.
James Wood controlled possession throughout the game and took 15 shots before one finally made it through.
James Wood coach Brian Sullivan said Warren County “has a very stingy defense.”
“They pack it in,” Sullivan said. “They make you work to hit the target. ...I thought overall once we figured out that we got to move the ball side to side, keep possession of the ball and get the ball in the corners, that we took advantage of that.”
James Wood’s Christopher Garcia Ortega scored with 13 minutes left in the first half to put the Colonels up 1-0.
With about five minutes left in the first half, James Wood’s John Ballentine scored the first of his three goals for a 2-0 lead.
Garcia Ortega scored again with about two minutes left in the opening half for a 3-0 James Wood advantage.
“Overall, I thought we did a good job of, once we got that opening goal of getting a couple more before half,” Sullivan said. “But that first goal kind of loosens you up a little bit. I told the guys I said we need to learn from this. We need to come out and jump on top of teams that we’re a little bit better than. I think if we can learn from that and do it next game, then I’ll be happy with that.”
Sullivan said that Garcia Ortega now has seven goals in his last three games.
“Right now he’s kind of putting the team on his shoulders and taking advantage of his opportunities,” Sullivan said.
Garcia Ortega also had two assists in the game. Mark Perkins had a goal for the Colonels, while Erick Nolasco had two assists and Wesley Walker and Todd Schneider each had one assist.
Hodge said the defense was one of the bright spots in the loss to the Colonels and all season. He said senior goalkeeper Keegan Brade, who had 20 saves, has been valuable to the defense all year.
“Thankfully, we have our defense this year that’s been stepping up,” Hodge said. “And it’s a bunch of 11th graders mostly. So we have another year to work with each other again. And then Keegan (Brade) in the back as the goalie. He sees the field well and he knows how to place people where they need to be.”
The Wildcats (1-6) went a stretch of 50 minutes without a shot and had only eight total in the contest.
Warren County has only six players returning from last year’s squad and Hodge said it’s taken some time for players who moved up from junior varsity last year to get used to the varsity level.
“We’re trying to get them in the swing of what we want to play within this varsity level and the intensity level that needs to be brought,” Hodge said. “Even the physical side of the game – it’s a lot different than what they’re used to at JV. So that’s been a little bit of an awakening for them. But they’ve been stepping up into it. Some of the defense were on JV last year. So they’ve had to adjust quickly for it. They’ve been doing well.”
Warren County hosts Spotsylvania tonight and then has a week off. Hodge said the spring break could be a good thing for his team, which only has games against Class 3 teams left on the schedule.
“We can finally get back into some practices again and just developing our skills back again – getting that tactical approach,” Hodge said. “It seems like it’s been a game and then you have a practice, but you can’t really push them too hard (in practice). You have to give them some rest in between those games because they do give it their all out there. So having that break will be nice so we can back into learning some new skills and tactics for the next set of (Class 3) schools.”