Thursday night’s AA Dulles District game between Loudoun County and Briar Woods was odd to begin with. The boys’ soccer contest was set to take place two nights earlier at Loudoun County – but rain canceled the game, and the school had to move it to nearby Tuscarora due to scheduling difficulties. It started an hour behind schedule.
And for Loudoun County junior James Moreno, nothing seemed out of place physically. After struggling with a re-occurring hamstring injury the last month, Moreno – the son of former DC United star Jaime Moreno – has missed much of the schedule, including a 1-0 loss to Tuscarora a few weeks ago. The game gave the third-ranked Huskies the upper hand in the district, and Loudoun County Coach Arni Sepehri said afterward that had the Raiders played with Moreno, the result could’ve been different. He’s one of Loudoun County’s strongest offensive forwards, a player who left his academy team, DC United, to play strictly high school this spring.
“I just wanted to come back and try and help Loudoun County as much as I could,” Moreno said, “and get them on the map.”
On Thursday, Moreno had a chance 20 minutes into the game, after Briar Woods was hit with a red card after a Falcons player disrupted a breakaway near the net. Moreno slowly approached the penalty kick, shuffling a few steps, and decided to go left — and was rejected. A few minutes later, he lined up for a direct kick from about 25 yards out, and the ball whistled just above the cross-bar. A few minutes later, he was dropped near midfield and laid on the turf for several minutes. Then he was helped back to the bench, favoring the hamstring. His night was done. Briar Woods went on to win 2-0.
“Obviously, the PK, should’ve put it away,” Moreno said. “That’s another thing, I felt like I let my team down.”
Moreno sat near the end of the bench, alone, for much of the game. Being Jaime Moreno’s son has not brought pressure to his play on the pitch, he said. In fact, it’s been the opposite. Jaime comes to his son’s games, such as Thursday, and yells encouragement. They watch soccer “every night” together, and James counts his upbringing as normal. “A lot of people are just, like, so overwhelmed,” Moreno said. “To be honest I just feel like a normal person, just maybe a little more, I wouldn’t say pressure, but motivation to you know succeed for what I want to do. And that’s obviously go to college and then look at the MLS draft.”
He has had interest from West Virginia, and has his eyes on a couple of soccer programs in Florida, including Central Florida and Florida International. College wasn’t on his mind on a foggy night in Leesburg Thursday.
After bursting onto the scene as a promising player for Loudoun County as a freshman, Moreno skipped his sophomore year with the high school team to play academy in DC, only to return this year in hopes of bringing Loudoun County to new heights. There have been some flashes for the Raiders (8-3-3, 6-3-3) – they earned a draw with Tuscarora in the season opener and won six of seven games to open the season — the last few weeks have been a struggle. Moreno said after the latest loss that his hamstring may not be ready for the district playoffs, which start May 17.
“It’s just a tough night for all of us. You know we’ve had a tough couple of weeks. Not winning, tying, losing,” Moreno said. “We just gotta regroup. You know this is a team game, so we all gotta come together and fight for one another. I’m going to do my best from the sidelines push my teammates to see where we go from there.”
NUMBER CRUNCH: 4
The number of goals Osbourn Park’s Lewin Artiga scored Thursday night in an 8-0 victory over Gar-Field. It was the second time this season Artiga has scored three or more goals in a game, and pushed his season total to 13, which is good for second in the area.
–Led by a student inspired by a televised game, Wise has launched a lacrosse program and hopes to spread the popularity of the sport in Prince George’s County.
–No. 2 Paul VI used a second half surge to beat DeMatha 13-8 in the WCAC lacrosse semifinal Thursday, setting up a date with No. 1 Gonzaga in the title game Monday.
–Princeton Day senior guard Aquille Carr took another step toward his professional basketball ambitions Thursday, signing with an agent and earning an invitation in June’s Adidas Eurocamp.
PHOTOS OF THE NIGHT
WHAT TO WATCH TODAY
Softball: Osbourn Park at Forest Park, 6 p.m.
The two top teams from the AAA Cardinal District collide in the regular season finale Friday. Osbourn Park (14-2, 8-1) and Forest Park (15-2) met back on April 16, with the Yellow Jackets coming out on top with a 1-0 win.