Osbourn Park junior forward Lewin Artiga scored three goals in a season-opening 3-1 win over Osbourn on Friday night in Manassas, but it was the body control leading up to the second tally in particular that impressed Yellow Jackets Coach Larry Nemerow the most.
Artiga streaked down the far sideline on the play early in the second half, and at about 15 yards out, he was met near the top of the box by Osbourn’s goaltender, who was also running full speed. That’s when Artiga pulled up and flipped the ball over the goalie, while still on the run. He was mugged by his teammates after the score, and Osbourn Park seemed to pick up right where it left off after last season’s 17-2 season and AAA Cardinal District title.
“That was a pretty impressive play,” Nemerow said. “He’s dangerous.”
Nemerow, now in his 22nd year at the helm, sat Artiga shortly after his first goal in the middle of the first half Friday, and rotated him back in a few minutes later. He used 21 field players during the game, and by the end of the night, only two of his starters remained on the field.
“We believe that if you want to have a deeper bench at the end of the season, you have to take the chance on playing those guys early,” said Nemerow, who was voted as coach of the year by the Post last season. “The aggressive part was there. I’d like to become a little bit more aggressive in some situations.”
Osbourn Park (1-0) returns five seniors, including George Mason bound Nick Bourbonnais, who recorded an assist in the win against Osbourn on Friday. Bourbonnais, who missed the first 13 games last season due to injury, is joined up front by senior Rashid Mahdi and the junior Artiga, who combined for 17 goals and seven assists last season and are both college prospects, Nemerow said.
Forest Park, Woodbridge and Gar-Field all figure to be formidable league competition for Osbourn Park this season, and the Yellow Jackets have to replace 14 graduated seniors. That includes first team All-Met selections in defender Ryan Flesch (William & Mary) and goalkeeper Michael Butts (George Mason), as well as Bryan Darby (Radford) and TJ Guerra (Lynchburg).
But that wasn’t the backdrop of Friday night’s opener. Nemerow is still sorting the pieces with a new team, but a commanding win to kick off the spring was a promising sign for a team that has reloaded with plenty of talented players.
“Those three kids (Bourbonnais, Mahdi, Artiga), any one of them is capable of having a game when they score multiple goals,” Nemerow said, “if we’re playing well.”