Battlefield sophomore forward Brendan Hogan whiffed on a cross early in the first half Wednesday against Forest Park, the ball gliding just inches over his head. Hogan then drifted into the open goal and grabbed the net as if he was going to tear it down, knowing his team just missed a perfect early scoring opportunity in a game that promised to be devoid of them.
But against a team that has developed a reputation for being an offensive juggernaut over the past two seasons, Hogan and the Bobcats methodically flipped the script. Hogan was tripped up just minutes later after a hard charge at the net, which set up a Chris Welsh goal off a free kick — and sophomore Bobby Bynum added a second-half goal as ninth-ranked Battlefield took down sixth-ranked Forest Park in Haymarket, 2-0.
“We kept it down in their zone most of the game,” Hogan said, “and I thought we were really in control of the game.”
The yellow and brown grass at Battlefield was battered from winter’s wrath, and it was an uninviting setting for the Bruins. Forest Park entered the match having scored 84 goals in its past 23 games, dating back to last spring’s run to the AAA Virginia state semifinals. Forest Park scored eight goals in its season opening win over Stafford.
Wednesday night it met its match in Battlefield (4-0-1), which was just a night removed from earning an emotional victory over perennial area power Osbourn Park. Battlefield Coach Nate Nemerow defeated his father, longtime Osbourn Park Coach Larry Nemerow in that one — then his team turned around 24 hours later and handed Forest Park (1-1) its first shutout loss in two years.
That was due in large part to a defensive effort that crowded the Bruins at every turn, and a crafty offensive approach that led to Welsh’s goal — a low-roller that pierced Forest Park’s wall and beat the team’s goalkeeper in the lower left corner.
“I was just trying to hit the target . . . it was good to score,” Welsh said. “We’ve got some good young players, and good seniors as well. We’re good across the board, and our coach [Nemerow] encourages us to play.”
Forest Park, which was well rested after having the past nine days without a match, generated plenty of chances, included several promising scoring looks in the first half from speedy forward Lewis Long. Sophomore Brandon Clegg added a near miss near the right post in the 28th minute, and he nearly tied the game in the 45th minute to compound the frustration.
That was Forest Park’s last real chance while the game was close. Bynum, perhaps the fastest player on the field, beat Forest Park’s keeper low right on a line drive moments later to give Battlefield its third win in five days.
“We were aware of [Forest Park’s offense],” Welsh said. “We just wanted to play our own game, on our own field. That’s the most important thing.”