Goal-oriented Indians rout Royals
By JACOB VAUGHAN, Sports Editor
Mar 15, 2013, 16:32
Prince George senior Matt Schneck (11) shields the ball from Powhatan junior Alex Reyna (9) during a non-district game on Wednesday. The visiting Indians scored four goals in the second half en route to a 4-0 victory in the season opener for both (photo by Jacob Vaughan).
PRINCE GEORGE – Devoid of an experienced goalkeeper and playing without the services of its top two goal scorers, the Prince George High School boys soccer team took the field on Wednesday with a defensive formation and a conservative game plan.
For the first 40 minutes, the tactic produced an even-keeled showdown with visiting Powhatan. The next 40, however, were decidedly one-sided.
Uplifted by a second-half offensive outpouring, the Indians cruised to a 4-0 victory in the season opener for both. The non-district contest was scoreless at halftime.
Prince George coach Tommy Harrison said he expected his team to struggle offensively. The defensive collapse, on the other hand, came as a surprise.
“I’m really disappointed with what we saw here tonight,” Harrison said. “I just felt like once we gave up that second goal, whatever energy and intensity we had was lost. It’s too early in the season for that.”
Powhatan sophomore Jimmy Woolcott opened the scoring two minutes into the second half and Tommy Dalton, Drew Ratliff and Will Hayden all followed suit before game’s end.
Prince George senior captains Brandon Hilliard and Michael Kaney – who led the team in goals and assists, respectively, last season – were both sidelined by nagging injuries. The attack-minded duo were among five Royals players who were withheld because of injuries.
“That’s the bulk of our attack,” Harrison said. “It could’ve been different if they were there, but we have to learn to play with what we have. We just didn’t do that tonight.”
The game was the first of several scheduled outings against Group AAA opponents for the Indians, who ply their trade in the Group AA Jefferson District. Powhatan coach Jeff Poston said the victory will “give us a little bit of confidence.”
Poston said he always knew his team was capable of their second-half barrage. “We were just waiting for it to develop,” he said.
The first half began as a midfield battle, but the war of attrition eventually gave way to end-to-end action. Still, quality goal scoring chances were few and far between.
Powhatan senior Drew Ozmar nearly broke the scoreless deadlock in the 22nd minute, but his right-footed effort clipped the inside of the goal post and bounced into the grateful arms of Prince George goalkeeper Kam Smith.
A similar opportunity at the opposite end of the field yielded a comparable result when Prince George sophomore Winn Watson’s left-footed offering rolled inches wide of the far post.
In the end, it took a bit of fortune to break the stalemate.
Allowed to operate in acres of space near the left touchline, Woolcott floated a speculative cross into Prince George’s penalty box. The ball sailed over attackers and defenders alike before dipping under the crossbar and nestling in the side netting.
The Indians doubled their advantage on a 20-yard free kick that left Dalton’s foot and careened off Smith’s shin into the bottom right corner. Smith, a junior who would start as a defender under ordinary circumstances, is doing his best to fill the team’s biggest void.
“He stepped up and went back in the goal for us,” Harrison said. “But you can see his inexperience.”
Ratliff, whose work down the left sideline gave the Royals fits all night, struck with just under 13 minutes remaining. The junior midfielder slipped his marker and slotted a low shot past an onrushing Smith to make the score 3-0.
“Drew Ratliff is just a great player, there’s no doubt about it,” Poston said. “I did some talking to him to get his head in the game, and he really showed up for us today.”
Hayden delivered the final blow of the Indians’ decisive flurry in stoppage time, smashing a low cross into the roof of the net.
Prince George junior Renee Santos, who spent much of the game chasing the ball as the Royals’ only striker, had two shots cleared off the goal line in the second half.
Prince George, which tied Lee-Davis and lost to Clover Hill in preseason scrimmages, will open district play on Thursday against Hopewell.
“We’re kind of starting off fresh with a new team,” Harrison said. “We see a lot of promise. We’re disappointed tonight, mostly because we saw so much progress in the last two weeks.”