As Tuscarora’s most physical athlete on the pitch, Angel Ceron-Garcia doubles down as the team’s most gifted scorer. The two attributes melded together seamlessly late in the first half of Tuesday night’s match against Loudoun County. With a smaller defender hounding his side, Ceron-Garcia picked up a loose ball about 25 yards in front of his opponent’s net — and after simply shouldering the Loudoun County player out of the way, he delivered a line-drive rocket into the lower left corner of the net.
It was an impressive score in traffic, and Ceron-Garcia’s body language after the goal suggested the play was routine. But it was also the difference in a 1-0 win over rival Loudoun County in a key Virginia AA District Dulles affair in Leesburg, as the Huskies remained unbeaten and atop the league standings.
“Even my coach says, I’m too, like, big. Like I need to start going to the gym,” Ceron-Garcia said sarcastically, after his team improved to 10-0-2, 9-0-2 in the district. “I didn’t have any chance to pass the ball to my teammates, so I just took the ball and went through the defense.”
His ball skills and bright yellow cleats gave Ceron-Garcia’s flashy style away, but Tuscarora needed all the muscle it could get from one of their senior leaders Tuesday. These two teams tied 3-3 in the season-opener back in early March in freezing conditions – and nearly two months later, on a night when the field was moistened by showers — Loudoun County (8-2-2, 6-2-2) played fast and looked like a team capable of knocking off its crosstown rival.
For Tuscarora, which entered the game having shut out four of its previous five opponents, it was clear from the outset that goals would come at a premium. The Huskies struggled to penetrate Loudoun County’s crowded defensive backfield. A number of opportunities off set pieces went begging in the first half, as did a dangerous direct kick by Tuscarora’s Edgar Resendiz that was stopped with about three minutes left in the first half.
And even after Ceron-Garcia opened the scoring, there were frustrating moments for the standout. A shot early in the second half hit the crossbar, and he was hit with a yellow card a few minutes later and came off. He was immediately re-inserted into a game that became increasingly chippy as the night wore on. He got his third opportunity of the night with just less than 10 minutes to play, but his header off a perfectly played cross hit the crossbar.
“I thought it went in, but it didn’t,” he said. “The opportunities were there.”
He fell awkwardly in the final two minutes, and after being attended to by team trainers, he got up and limped off the field. He added weight and muscle in the offseason, he said, and it has added a dimension in games such as the one Tuesday against Loudoun County.
“He’s technical, with also having the strength and skill to get around people and finish,” Tuscarora Coach Dave Gryder said. “He’s a finisher, no doubt.”