Freshman Chernoh Diallo had been a student at Gar-Field for only a few months, yet had made enough of an impression to warrant a note at the bottom of his medical and academic report that read, "We're really going to miss him" when his paperwork was transferred to Mount Vernon earlier this year
Diallo has been just as efficient at Mount Vernon, where he already has brought flair and confidence to a boys' program that finished winless last season. Combining blazing speed and an dazzling array of offensive skills, Diallo has scored eight goals during the Majors' 2-0-1 start. Mount Vernon scored 15 goals in 2002.
Diallo's goals have come against quality opposition. The native of Sierra Leone tallied a hat trick in the season-opening defeat of then-No. 5 Lee and scored twice in Tuesday's 2-2 draw with No. 10 Hayfield, a sound defensive team anchored by Old Dominion signee Eric Hogelund.
"I've not seen one defender who can stop him," Mount Vernon senior midfielder and captain Paul Tenorio said.
Along with freshman goalkeeper Jean-Claude Mutombo, who saved a Hayfield penalty kick, Diallo has injected new spirit into the revitalized Majors.
"Coming home from the first game, after not winning a game all of last year, the environment on the bus was incredible. The dancing and singing didn't stop all the way home," Tenorio said. "They've just made a huge impact."
Westfield's Latin Influence
The motto adopted this spring by the Westfield boys' team is Victoria Concordia Crescit -- Latin for "Victory Grows From Harmony." It has proven true so far, as the close-knit Bulldogs are off to an unprecedented 3-0 start.
The pace has been set by the Barthold brothers. Matt, a senior, tallied the first hat trick in program history in last Friday's 3-0 win over Wakefield. Pat, a freshman, followed with three goals in Tuesday's 6-1 defeat of Marshall. Matt assisted on two of those goals.
"They're fantastic together. They're closer than most brothers," Bulldogs Coach Ben Hubbard said.
An off-field event has served to bring the team together, as well. On March 16 junior Andrew Charron saved the life of an elderly man who had a heart attack at the indoor pool where the defender works as a lifeguard. The event has earned Charron and the team a healthy dose of good publicity.
"A lot of the players really take a lot of pride in what Andrew did, even though they didn't do a thing," Hubbard said. "It's actually drawn our team closer."
Centreville's Championship Start
There were a lot of different ways Centreville, the fourth-ranked girls' team in the area, could have started its season, but wins over the last two Virginia AAA champions more than surpassed Coach Warren Williams's expectations.
"We've just been playing pretty good soccer. I'm speechless, as a matter of fact," Williams said.
In the opener, the Wildcats came from behind to beat then-No. 5 W.T. Woodson, 4-3, in overtime and followed with a 2-0 win over defending state champion Robinson.
One of the question marks for Williams entering the season was finding a consistent source of offense, but instead the team has produced a balanced attack with five players scoring the first six goals. Only freshman Emily Jukich, who scored twice against W.T. Woodson, had more than one goal in the first two games.
"I don't know where they're coming from, but they're coming," Williams said. "We're a pretty mature team. Against Woodson they scored against us, but we didn't drop heads. We came right back and scored on them. That's something young teams don't do."
On Tuesday, Centreville routed West Springfield -- the 2000 state runner-up -- 5-1.