Moments after his team cruised to a 2-0 win over Marshall last Thursday, South Lakes Coach Marty Pfister, looking to squeeze more work in before the night was done, instructed his team to meet him at one of the far goals for an impromptu practice. While their opponent ended a team meeting and headed for the exits on the opposite end, the Seahawks’ players took turns taking practice penalty shots late into a cold, breezy evening in Reston.
“You can practice PK’s in practice. . . but that doesn’t fully replicate it,” Pfister said.
It wasn’t the first time Pfister has milked the clock with his team after a game this season, and it won’t be the last. With his team still wearing their uniforms and fully fatigued after a game – practicing shootouts after home games is the best simulation his team can get.
The Seahawks lost in penalty kicks to Lake Braddock in the AAA Northern Region quarterfinals last year, after enduring a year of close calls – four games went to overtime, and all but two of South Lakes’ games were decided by one goal or ended in draws.
“Who knows what would have happened,” said Pfister, whose team finished 7-6-4 in 2012, of getting past Lake Braddock had it won the shootout in the regionals.
Pfister’s unconventional thinking and practice tactics have been effective for South Lakes midway through this spring. After losing to T.C. Williams in their season-opener, the third-ranked Seahawks have responded with seven straight wins. But even as the club has pitched shutouts in its last four games, including last week’s 2-0 decision over Marshall, South Lakes has scored just four goals in those contests – and two of its previous wins in early April came in overtime over Edison (3-2) and Falls Church (1-0). The lone top-10 win in the stretch came against No. 6 Herndon (6-1-1) on March 20, which was the Hornets’ only setback of the season.
The Seahawks have five games remaining, including a date Friday at Jefferson, and those contests are spaced out across the next three weeks as the postseason approaches. Nonetheless, South Lakes has proven to be well-conditioned; it played three games in four nights last week, which capped a stretch in which the team had five games in 11 days.
And on a team anchored by Maryland signee and 2012 first-team All-Met Suliaman Dainkeh in the midfield, as well as eight returning starters that include Mary Washington recruits Dylan Katz and Elvin Arbazia, there have been plenty of surprises as of late. Junior Jhonny DeSouza leads the team in scoring with three goals, all of which have come in the last three games. Junior goalkeeper Huber Letona, who had eight stops in the win over Herndon, has fortified a position that was a serious question mark heading into the year.
South Lakes is currently in a race with No. 9 Langley (5-1-1) for control of the AAA Liberty District; those two teams will play in the season finale on May 8.
“The boys, overall, I try to keep them focused on the bigger picture. And the bigger picture really is winning the district playoffs. If you don’t win that, you don’t get into the region playoffs,” Pfister said. “We’ve been focused on the bigger picture. And that’s just playing our soccer, and letting the results take care of itself.”
Fresh off a return from injury, Nick Bourbonnais scored two goals and Lewin Artiga added another as Osbourn Park upset previously undefeated Forest Park 3-1. . . . Herndon earned its sixth straight win Monday, beating Chantilly 3-1 behind a goal and assist from Josh Glazier. Goalkeeper Keegan Fairchild added 15 saves, pushing his season total to 70 stops. . . . After two consecutive 2-2 draws against Edison and Lake Braddock, T.C. Williams bounced back Monday with a 3-1 win over previously ninth-ranked West Potomac to remain unbeaten.
1. Oakton (7-0-1) LW: 1
2. Lake Braddock (4-0-3) LW: 2
3. South Lakes (7-1) LW: 4
4. T.C. Williams (5-0-2) LW: 5
5. Tuscarora (Va.) (6-0-2) LW: 6
6. Herndon (6-1-1) LW: 7
7. W.T. Woodson (5-1) LW: 8
8. Forest Park (6-1) LW: 3
9. Langley (5-1-1) LW: 10
10. Osbourn Park (4-2-2) LW: NR
Dropped out: No. 9 West Potomac (4-2-1)
Records through Tuesdsay