Colonials cruise past Warriors
By JACOB VAUGHAN, Sports Editor
Mar 30, 2013, 12:49
CHESTERFIELD – The first three weeks of J.P. McNulty’s seventh season as coach of the Colonial Heights High School boys soccer team have been characterized by a pair of long-awaited breakthroughs.
Last week, the Colonials defeated Central District powerhouse Thomas Dale for the first time under McNulty’s leadership. On Thursday, the upstart squad solidified its standing as the district’s early frontrunner with a 3-0 road win over perennial contender Matoaca.
“This is the first time I’ve actually won here at Matoaca,” McNulty said. “So that was a good first. We beat Thomas Dale last time out, and that was a first for us as well. It’s been a good start to the year with two quality wins against two big rivals.”
Colonial Heights senior Jimmy Mills (19) shields the ball from Matoaca senior Gavin Richebourg (17) during a Central District game on Thursday in Chesterfield (photo by Jacob Vaughan).
For the first time in recent memory, the Colonials basked in the district limelight before taking the field against the Warriors. As it turned out, their encore performance trumped their opening act.
“We didn’t want to come out flat because we knew they were going to come out thinking they could knock us off,” said Colonial Heights senior Jimmy Mills. “So we came out, scored a good early goal and took it to them after that.”
Mills opened the scoring with a well-deserved goal in the 12th minute and the Colonials never looked back. Mills, whose enterprising work on the right flank gave the Warriors fits all night, was the beneficiary of a perfectly threaded through ball from senior J.D. Lester.
“I saw J.D. in the center and he turned on the ball, so I started making my run,” said Mills, who will play at Hampden-Sydney College next fall. “He played a perfect ball through. I took a touch and let it rip to the near post.”
The ensuing right-footed shot trundled past Jacob Williamson, Matoaca’s onrushing goalkeeper, to give the visitors a 1-0 advantage.
Lester, an attack-minded center midfielder who led the Colonials with 16 goals in 2011 and 18 last year, showcased his passing prowess again four minutes later. This time he picked out forward Jordin Wallace, who wrong-footed his defender and rolled a shot into the side netting at the far post.
“He’s one of our goal scorers, but he’s also a great distributor,” McNulty said of Lester. “He sees the field wonderfully, and he kind of leads our break.”
Colonial Heights tightened its grip on the match as the first half wore on, but the home team had one clear-cut opportunity to halve the deficit before halftime. It came in the 26th minute when a defensive miscommunication gave Matoaca senior Tyler Thrasher a one-on-one opportunity with Colonial Heights goalkeeper Kyle Gaskin.
The senior netminder managed to parry Thrasher’s shot to safety, however, and the Colonials led 2-0 at the interval.
It took Colonial Heights three minutes to make the final result a formality in the second half. Allowed to operate in acres of space near the left touchline, Ethan Yanes spotted the run of Jonas Biermann and lofted a well-measured cross into the 18-yard box.
Biermann’s header from the penalty spot flew into the roof of the net to provide the final margin.
Colonial Heights held a 12-3 advantage in shots taken and a 3-0 edge in corner kicks. The visitors peppered Williamson with eight shots on goal, forcing five saves from the sophomore netminder.
The Colonials, McNulty said, are abuzz with enthusiasm in the wake of their back-to-back victories, and the team is already well-positioned to qualify for the Central Region tournament for the first time since 2007.
“They’re fired up,” he said. “I think this team is special.”