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Commonwealth Boys Soccer: Eagles see first title on horizon

BY ADAM HIMMELSBACH

The Colonial Forge boys soccer players smiled and huddled on the grass after their 4–2 Commonwealth District semifinal win over North Stafford. The victory put them one win from their first ever tournament title.

“How many wins do you have?” Eagles coach Jeremy Sargent asked.

The players responded that they had 16 of them.

“Are you satisfied?” Sargent continued.

The Eagles said they were not.

After all, they have come too far and been through too much in this surprising season to stop now.

So on Monday, they will face Albemarle in the title game. If they win, it would be the program’s first ever district tournament crown, and it would set a single-season school record for victories.

“What I like about our team is we keep showing we can do better,” senior midfielder Tim Clancy said. “I don’t see a limit for us at all.”

Colonial Forge defeated Albemarle, 2–1, in both regular-season meetings this year.

Despite its loss on Thursday night, North Stafford, the defending Group AAA state champion, still has a flicker of hope.

This is the first season that will include a district consolation game, with the winner securing a berth in regionals. The Wolverines will face Massaponax on Monday, and both teams’ seasons will be on the line.

They split their two regular-season meetings.

“I’d love to get another chance at [Colonial Forge] because I think we can play with them,” North Stafford coach Iric Bressler said. “But we’ve got to play the perfect game, and we didn’t play the perfect game tonight.”

Colonial Forge was not perfect, either, but the Eagles are athletic and talented enough to hide imperfections. When they have struggled this season, it has been because of sloppy starts.

But that was not a problem in this game.

In just the second minute, Kevin Roberts fed Clancy on the left side, and the senior drilled a left-footed shot beneath the crossbar.

Then in the 21st minute, Luke Schmiegel bounced a pass to Roberts, who slammed a half-volley into the net on one touch.

“I got a lucky bounce and it went in,” Roberts said. “But I’ll take it.”

North Stafford’s game-plan at the start was to play the ball over Colonial Forge’s talented midfielders rather than through them.

But Bressler said the Wolverines did not stick to that plan, and it cost them.

North Stafford regrouped in the second half, however, and in the 49th minute Joey Slye lofted a long throw-in from the right sideline that somehow squirted to Sheldon Sullivan near the far left post.

The Virginia-bound junior headed the ball into the net, slicing his team’s deficit to 2–1.

Before North Stafford could ride the momentum from that goal, Colonial Forge answered. In the 53rd minute, Roberts fired a crossing pass that was headed toward Clancy in an open space.

“The second ball was killing us, so I thought it might as well kill them too,” Clancy said. “Sure enough, the header came across the box right to my foot, and I put it in.”

North Stafford made one final push, when Slye smashed a blistering rocket from beyond the top of the penalty box, making it 3–2 in the 70th minute.

But the Wolverines were unable to pull any closer.A header by Schmiegel in the 78th minute sealed the win for Colonial Forge.

“We worked hard and grinded and came out with a win,” Roberts said. “Now, we move on from here.”

Adam Himmelsbach: 540/374-5442

ahimmelsbach@freelancestar.com

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