Tuscarora entered Tuesday night’s Virginia AA Region II boys’ soccer quarterfinal match having outscored opponents 35-2 in its past 11 games, but that dominant run became irrelevant quickly against Potomac Falls. This was late-May high school soccer at its finest, and behind gutsy goalkeeping and a number of dangerous scoring chances, the Panthers pushed just the right buttons against their favored rival in a close, scoreless first half.
But when tempers flared in the second half, Tuscarora seemed to relish the pressure — and the implications of a potential upset. Behind two goals late in the game from sophomore Justin Carey, the third-ranked Huskies won 2-0 to advance to the region semifinals and keep their state championship hopes alive in Leesburg.
The Huskies will host Sherando, 6-0 winners over Warren County, on Thursday night.
Tuesday’s heated match, the third win for Tuscarora (19-0-2) over AA Dulles District rival Potomac Falls (15-5) this season, didn’t come without a price. Huskies star forward Angel Ceron-Garciagot into a shoving match with a Potomac Falls player with about 15 minutes remaining, and both were ejected with red cards. As a result, Ceron-Garcia will be suspended for Thursday’s semifinal.
“It’s not the best situation for sure, that’s our star player and leading scorer,” Tuscarora Coach Dave Gryder said. “It gives other people other opportunities, and in a way, makes us diversify and get some people in a different spot, and show their talents.”
Just as he had done all season long, Ceron-Garcia (21 goals) dazzled the home crowd with a number of scoring opportunities in the first half – and the senior was quickly embattled in a personal duel with Potomac Falls goalkeeper Ian Waltz, who saved 10 shots in the first 40 minutes alone (including five from Ceron-Garcia) and kept his team within striking distance heading into the second half.
But Carey was the emergent talent Gryder was looking for Tuesday, and he produced even before Ceron-Garcia exited. His first goal came 15 minutes into the second half, when he found a seam down the right side of the field and took a pass from Sergio Resendiz. He pulled up from about 20 yards in front of the goal and chipped the shot over Waltz, who could only look up at the ball and watch it fall into the net. About 10 minutes after the red cards put both teams a man down, it was Carey who muscled his way through a crowd of players in front of the net, heading in a free kick to all but seal the win.
“I tell them all the time, the championship teams, when the challenge is given to them, they step their games up. And so do the best players,” Gryder said. “That’s what it is at this point.”
In other Virginia AA Region II quarterfinal action, Briar Woods defeated Western Albemarle in penalty kicks, 6-5, to earn a a berth into Thursday’s semifinal against Park View, which dispatched Kettle Run, 2-0. Three of the four semifinalists hail from the Dulles District.
Briar Woods (13-6-1) tied the game late in the first half against the Warriors off a Nick Der-Hacopian goal, then forced overtime despite having just one quality look at the net in the second half. After a scoreless overtime, both teams converted on their first five penalty kicks, but Falcons keeper Kent Legg came up with a save on Western Albemarle’s sixth try and senior Eric Jennings converted the following try to lift the Falcons to a dramatic win.
Park View (11-6-2) battled to a scoreless draw in the first half against Kettle Run, but the Patriots took control with about 20 minutes remaining when freshman Paul Justiniano scored on a cross. Both teams went down a man shortly after, but Park View sealed the win with about 13 minutes remaining when sophomore Franklin Amaya scored on another cross that Kettle Run failed to clear out of its zone.
Park View will travel to Briar Woods for Thursday’s semifinals. The Patriots suffered a 5-0 loss to the Falcons on April 30.