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Region A Boys Soccer: Washington & Lee falls in regional semis
By TOM LEISS
MONTROSS—The Washington & Lee boys soccer team came into Thursday’s Region A semifinal with an unbeaten record and a chance to earn a spot in the Group A state playoffs.
But the Eagles—who were making their first-ever trip to the regional semifinals—were up against a more seasoned Nandua side that has reached two state finals in its history, winning it all in 2003.
At times, Washington & Lee’s inexperience showed and the visiting Warriors used a first-half goal and a solid possession game in the second half to take home a 1–0 win.
Nandua (15–3–2) also had a distinct size advantage and used an aggressive style of play that wreaked havoc on the smaller Eagles all game.
Washington & Lee coach R.J. Sudduth said he had scouted Nandua but didn’t expect them to play as physically as they did.
“They were a lot more physical than we were They were putting body on ball,” he said. “This style definitely threw my guys off and created a lot of problems for us.
“We knew they had size, but then again every team we played this season was bigger than us.”
The visitors’ nearly took the lead in the 11th minute when Joe McNeal sent a header off the left post following a corner kick by Neri Marquez.
Then, the Warriors’ aggressiveness paid off with the only goal of the game in the 27th minute.
Sophomore forward Brendon Burrows sent a quick throw-in over the Washington & Lee defense, which looked to have it covered.
However, Elmas Mayorga fought his way through a defender to beat Washington & Lee goalie Jay Jims to the ball, poking a shot into the vacated net to give the Warriors a 1–0 advantage.
Perhaps catching the Eagles (15–1–1) back on their heals a bit, Nandua almost doubled its lead less than three minutes later.
Marquez got to a loose ball in the Washington & Lee goal area and ripped a 15-yard shot, but Jims made a big save to keep the Eagles in the game.
Washington & Lee created a few quality chances of its own as the first-half clock wound down.
With seven minutes to play, Nandua goalie Derek Collins dropped a cross by the Eagles’ Luis Chipres. But the senior recovered in time to collect the ball just before Fernando Alvarez was able to get a touch on it.
Washington & Lee’s best chance of the half came with under two minutes to play.
Juan Ochoa chipped a pass over the defense to Chipres, but the freshman’s shot was blocked and then smothered by Collins.
The Warriors came out strong in the second half, clearly intent on not letting their hosts back into the game.
Nandua, the Eastern Shore District tournament champions, spread the field and passed the ball effectively, forcing the Eagles to chase the game.
Washington & Lee created a few more quality chances as time started to wear down, but just couldn’t find the equalizer it was looking for.
The Eagles lose just four starters to graduation, so they will be returning with a good nucleus next season.
Sudduth said he hopes Thursday’s result leaves a bitter taste in his players’ mouths and motivates them for a return trip next year with a different outcome, of course.
“We’ll look to contend again next season,” he said. “Definitely got some summer camps to get the kids in and end of summer [in 6 versus 6 games].
“So, we are going to keep building this program up to the level that our school and fans can be proud of.”
Tom Leiss: 540/374-5440