Point to any team in this week’s top 10 boys’ soccer rankings. Now identify what makes that team stand out. For local soccer junkies, it’s not a particularly hard exercise.
Langley has Jacob Labovitz and Sam Golan, two standouts with experience playing overseas. Park View has Obdulio Funez, the supremely skilled senior with 17 goals on the season. Yorktown trusts shot-stopping savant Hayden Kickbush in goal while energetic sophomore Billy Blake roams the midfield.
So what about fourth-ranked W.T. Woodson? What makes the Cavaliers tick?
“Honestly there’s not like one thing that defines us,” Woodson senior Sam Behan said. “I think the thing that defines us is that we can do it all.”
A lack of star power might get you beat in more individualistic sports like basketball or baseball, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing in soccer so long as your team possesses balance. Woodson has balance and experience up and down its roster, which explains why the Cavaliers stand alongside top-ranked Langley as the area’s only unbeaten teams nearly five weeks into the 2017 season.
To be sure, Woodson (4-0-3) has some very good players on that roster. Junior midfielder Daniel Kang can beat just about anyone on the wing with his dynamic footwork and electric pace. Senior forward Ryan Dagley uses his nose for goal to remain a constant nuisance in the penalty area.
And then there’s Behan, the imposing central defender with the flowing black hair and the captain’s arm band. Behan’s no-holds-barred approach to defending — clear the ball from danger using any means necessary — hasn’t changed this year, but his leadership duties have doubled. First-team All-Met defender Sean Garin was one of three Woodson starters that graduated last year, leaving Behan as the Cavaliers’ hard-tackling, vocal ringleader this season.
Without Garin and forward JW Clark paving the way, the Cavaliers have been forced to spread responsibilities all over the pitch. Nine Woodson players have scored goals through seven games this spring, already surpassing the total of last year’s five-win squad.
“No knock to Sean or any of our seniors from last year, but I think we kind of based the team too much around them last year,” Behan said. “We kind of forced our system around them instead of just playing as eleven.”
Behan and Co. are determined to push through a rigorous Conference 7 tournament slate next month and make a long-awaited regional push. They haven’t forgotten what happened last May, when Mount Vernon knocked them out with a 3-2 win in the playoffs’ opening round.
“We’ve talked about it since day one,” Woodson Coach Andrew Peck said. “Pretty much everyone who is here experienced that last year, so they understand how it feels to lose that first match. We’re ready to push forward this year.”
Goal differential for Lake Braddock over its last seven games. The Bruins have not surrendered a goal since starting the season with two losses.
The senior forward racked up four goals in the Patriots’ 5-1 win over Woodgrove on Monday. It marked his fourth-straight outing with at least three goals.
Jacob Labovitz bagged two goals in Langley’s 4-1 win over South Lakes on Monday, raising the senior striker’s scoring total to 17 on the season …. Park View senior Obdulio Funez continued his scoring tear with four goals in Monday’s 5-1 rout over Woodgrove, tying him with Labovitz for the area’s highest scoring total so far this spring …. Madison has flipped the script after last year’s five-win season, its latest success coming in Monday’s 6-0 romp over McLean …. Lake Braddock earned its seventh-straight shutout in Monday’s 3-0 victory against South County …. Tuscarora dropped its first match of the season in a 2-1 loss to Millbrook on Friday …. South Lakes fell to Jefferson, 1-0, in overtime before beating McLean, 2-1, last week, then lost to Langley, 4-1, on Monday …. Coming off a 1-0 loss to Madison on Friday, Yorktown used a second-half goal from Sam Dokken to take down Washington-Lee, 1-0, on Monday.
1. Langley (6-0-2) Last week: 3
2. Park View (8-1) LW: 4
3. Madison (8-1) LW: 7
4. W.T. Woodson (4-0-3) LW: 5
5. Lake Braddock (7-2) LW: 6
6. Tuscarora (5-1-4) LW: 1
7. Osbourn (7-2) LW: 8
8. South Lakes (6-2-2) LW: 2
9. Yorktown (4-3-1) LW: NR
10. Battlefield (5-1-2) LW: 10
Dropped out: Washington-Lee
On the bubble: Falls Church, Oakton, Lee
Records through Monday.