Returning to a second consecutive state semifinal appearance in Radford this week almost didn’t happen for Tuscarora (Va.) striker Angel Ceron-Garcia, who has endured through another wild and at times, difficult postseason this spring.
The pivotal moment came last week, when Ceron-Garcia was red-carded for pushing a Potomac Falls player in the AA Region II quarterfinals, which carried an automatic suspension for the semifinal against Sherando. Ceron-Garcia could only watch as Tuscarora pulled out a 1-0 overtime win to extend its season. It was the most difficult task of his career.
“You know when players get mad and they do things that they don’t want to? Well that happened to me,” Ceron-Garcia said. “My team needed me. They were needing me. I couldn’t do anything about it, because of how I acted…it was really hard for me.”
There was drama waiting for Ceron-Garcia on the pitch after he returned the following match, which the Huskies lost 2-1 to Briar Woods in the Region II championship. It was the first loss of the season for Tuscarora (21-1-2), which had beaten the Falcons twice earlier this season. It was a major “wake-up call” said Ceron-Garcia, who vowed over the weekend to get his team back to Radford when it played in Tuesday’s state quarterfinal at Lafayette.
And he did. Ceron-Garcia scored the game-winning goal with just three minutes left to set up a rematch of last year’s state semifinal against Blacksburg Friday morning. A two-time second-team All-Met, Ceron-Garcia’s offensive production hasn’t wavered since he started playing for the school three years ago, shortly after he emigrated from El Salvador. At 6-foot-1 and about 200 pounds, he has the physical ability to score from anywhere on the field (he has won interest from schools such as George Mason and Lynchburg College, he said), and has scored 23 goals this season – which gives him 75 for his career. He will graduate this spring as one of the most decorated players in the school’s brief history.
What’s missing is a state championship. Tuscarora fell 4-3 to Jamestown in the 2012 final (Tuscarora beat Blacksburg 4-1 in the semifinal) – and Ceron-Garcia believed his team had stage fright this time last year. After this postseason, which has brought the lessons of four seasons combined, Ceron-Garcia is ready to lead his club on a two-day title run, he said.
“Now we know how it feels, losing a game,” Ceron-Garcia said. “Everyone doesn’t want this feeling again.”
NUMBER CRUNCH: 3
The number of days it took to settle the D.C. High School Baseball Classic between Wilson and Maret, which was suspended due to weather on Sunday night and didn’t resume until Wednesday. The long-layoff seemed to provide a spark for the Frogs, who trailed 1-0 on Sunday but went on to win 10-1.
PHOTOS OF THE NIGHT