Boys’ soccer: Yorktown, Washington-Lee play physical game that ends in a tie

The blue training table sat on the track in between the benches of Yorktown and Washington-Lee Tuesday night, and it was a common landing place for players on both sides. A Generals player was checked out there after being dizzied by a collision near the Yorktown goal in the first half. Two Patriots players visited after two more hard tumbles in the second half, both helpless while having their legs wrapped.

Even with all the physical causalities, both teams left the pitch Tuesday more emotionally wounded than anything. The fourth-ranked Patriots and 10th-ranked Generals finished in a scoreless tie in a hard-fought, exhausting Virginia Conference 6 match in Arlington.

“It was very intense. I mean, we came into it knowing that they were going to be a tough team,” Washington-Lee goalkeeper Benjamin English said. “I thought we put in work, we just didn’t get the result that we wanted.”

Washington-Lee (6-0-2, 0-0-1 in Conference 6) entered the match having beaten its last four opponents by a combined score of 18-2 — but Tuesday’s league opener against the Patriots (6-1-1, 2-0-1) presented an entirely different challenge. Yorktown’s last game came 13 days earlier — but the 2-0 win over Hayfield was marred in disappointment after the Patriots failed to put away a number of scoring opportunities.

Even though the Patriots came away with their sixth clean sheet of the season, they also left with frustration. Much of it was due to stellar goalkeeping from the Generals’ English in the first half, after he made five crucial saves, including tipping out a chip by Iain Holmes right in front of the net in the 19th minute. Holmes had another look moments later on the ensuing corner kick, but his header sailed just inches past the left post.

The two players collided about three minutes later, a play that seemed to define the tone of Tuesday’s rivalry match that was filled with hard contact. Both teams shuffled through reserves to offset the relentless pace.

“It’s always the most intense game of the season,” Holmes said. “I just think everyone’s going, putting it all on the field.”

The teams traded more frustrating blows in the second half and overtime. Washington-Lee couldn’t capitalize on a string of corner kicks in a three-minute span late in regulation. Yorktown missed a chance with just five minutes left in regulation when speedy midfielder Keith Witherell lost control of the ball on a clean breakaway. He pounded the turf with both hands shortly after.

In the opening minutes of overtime, Washington-Lee defender Timothy Collins left his header just above the crossbar. On the ensuing possession, one of his teammates was injured in a scrum that nearly resulted in a Yorktown goal. The Washington-Lee player came off a moment later, visiting the blue training table with a bloody nose.

“It was definitely a very physical game,” English said. “All games are physical, it’s just that tonight the hits stuck and knocks stuck as well.”

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