Oakton Coach Todd Spitalny saw pure exhaustion on his boys’ faces late last week. The weary Cougars had just wrapped up four matches in seven days and still were without a third of their projected preseason starting lineup because of injury.
Oakton was coming off a tie against Herndon and a loss to Yorktown on back-to-back nights, just its second defeat in 22 months. And to make matters worse, the Cougars had to take on two top-five opponents in West Springfield and Chantilly in a three-day span this week before they could go on spring break.
On Monday, the Cougars found a spark with a win over the fourth-ranked Spartans. By Wednesday night against the fifth-ranked Chargers, it looked reinvigorated, youthful even. Freshman Jason Ferrufino scored two goals, including the game-winner with about 15 seconds left to lead No. 1 Oakton to a 2-1 win in a key Virginia Conference 5 match in Chantilly.
Senior forward Ben Cisse added the game-winning assist, which gave Oakton its most memorable moment of the young season after Ferrufino chipped the ball in from about 10 yards out in a frantic finish.
“It was pretty sweet,” Ferrufino said. “It was the best thing that has happened so far for me in Oakton soccer.”
Chantilly (3-2, 1-1) will face a similar gauntlet later in the season when it plays four games in six days in early May, but the Chargers were squarely focused on Oakton (6-1-1, 2-0-1) on Wednesday before an energetic home crowd.
Ferrufino changed the complexion of the game just 10 minutes in, forcing the Chargers on their heels after flicking a loose ball over the head of Chantilly keeper Dylan Moran from about five yards out. But Moran played with a short memory. He made key saves all night to keep his team close (including six first-half stops), and Chantilly captured the game’s momentum early in the second half after senior Ben Fedenisn tied the score by beating two Oakton defenders and depositing a goal into the right corner from about 20 feet out.
Moran’s best save of the night came in the 65th minute, when he fully extended and snatched a line drive. With five minutes left, he had to improvise another stop with his knee to preserve the tie.
“It was pretty crazy. We hadn’t been playing that well in the second half. We were just trying to find a goal,” Cisse said. Moran “did pretty well.”
Ferrufino’s goal looked like it came from the foot of a seasoned veteran. He beat the Chargers’ defense after Cisse found him on a cross, and just as he did earlier, he chipped the ball softly into the net for the game-winner. He could hardly contain his smile near the Cougars’ bench after the game, knowing he had just helped his team earn a well-deserved 13-day spring break without a game.
“We’ve been tired the last week. We’ve been struggling a little bit with the team,” Ferrufino said. “It’s nice to end the week with a win.”