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James Moreno has two goals and an assist to lead Loudoun County into Va. 4A soccer final

Senior James Moreno scored two goals and added an assist as Loudoun County cruised to a 4-1 win over Grafton in the Virginia 4A state semifinals Friday morning at Liberty University.

Moreno pushed his season total to 30 goals with his second consecutive game with at least two scores. He scored both goals in the first half and assisted on another by freshman Ben Mackey to give Loudoun County a 3-0 lead at halftime.

It was Mackey’s second goal in as many games for the Raiders (21-1-1), who have outscored opponents 18-2 in their past six games.

It was an impressive result, Moreno said, as Loudoun County knew little about Grafton and only had a short time to prepare.

“I think we did a good job as far as not knowing what that team was about and coming out at them and putting them in a position that they weren’t comfortable with,” Moreno said. “After that first goal, I think we really settled the game down a little bit and put them on their heels a little bit.”

Loudoun County will play in Saturday’s 4 p.m. final against perennial power Midlothian, which posted a 2-0 victory over Chancellor in the second semifinal. The Raiders played Midlothan and won, 6-0, in the 4A North region title game last week.

“We’re going to come out tomorrow with the same mentality,” Moreno added, “and hopefully get the win.”

Grafton, from York County, slowed the pace of the game in the second half and pulled within 3-1 with about 13 minutes remaining on a penalty kick. But it was another signature performance for a Raiders back line that has 12 shutouts and has allowed just 13 goals. Pushing the tempo on offense helped the defense perform at a high level, senior forward Jon Mackey said.

“The key pure and simple was to come out firing, and that’s what we did,” Mackey said. “That was a confidence boost but also a huge sigh of relief.”

George Mason wins in 2A

Elliott Mercado and Raheem Lawal each scored three goals as George Mason cruised to a 11-0 win over James River-Buchanan in the 2A state semifinals in Radford.

Junior Patrick Pereddo added two goals for the Mustangs (21-1), who will meet Riverheads on Saturday in the state final just a week after the two teams met in the 2A East region final. George Mason won that match, 3-2.

The Mustangs led 4-0 at halftime, and the pace only picked up from there. Mercado and Lawal have combined for 74 goals this season. George Mason is the defending Virginia A state champion.

“That’s always our goal especially with so many returning players that have tasted it before,” George Mason Coach Frank Spinello said of returning to the title game. “That’s been the mission since the first day of practice.”

Roman Stubbs covers the University of Maryland athletics for The Washington Post.
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