Champe Runs By Colonels In 5-1 Victory

Posted: April 25, 2014
By MARK SAWYER
Special to The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER —Youth and inexperience are two words that have been used to describe the James Wood High School boys’ soccer team, and oftentimes with youth and inexperience comes offensive struggles.

Such has been the case for the Colonels this season. Through their first eight games Wood had scored just six goals, never more then one in a game, and had been shut out twice.

That trend continued Thursday night when the Colonels returned home for a non-district game against second-year school John Champe. Unfortunately for Wood, the Knights put together a record-setting offensive performance.

After a defensive struggle for the first 23 minutes of the game the Knights found the back of the net twice in the span of three minutes in the first half and proceeded to score a school-record five goals en route to a 5-1 victory over the Colonels at Wood’s Kelican Stadium.

After going winless last season and getting shut out eight times the Knights are still having an up-and-down season but the successes and wins are starting to add up. Thursday night was John Champe’s third victory this season over a Northwestern District opponent (they also beat Handley and Skyline).

“They worked hard for it, it’s been a long time coming,” John Champe coach Andy Vera said. “They worked very hard and deserved every bit of it. Things just started rolling for us.

“It was a little different getting used to the grass field (Champe has a turf field) and the different bounces but once they got rolling they figured it out and got their rhythm. Like anything else once you get your rhythm going it’s hard to slow down.

“They played the entire game like it was 0-0 regardless, all the way through. I’m very happy and proud of the boys. A bunch of good boys, hard workers and respectful kids.”

Over the first 20 minutes of the game the two teams went back and forth as they felt each other out and while there were chances on both sides neither team had that golden scoring opportunity.

That changed with just over 17 minutes left in the first half when the Knights were able to work the ball into the Wood penalty box.

One of the Knights backs placed a nice centering pass just in front of the Colonels goal and junior midfielder Phi Pham was the benefactor of a perfect header pass that found him wide open just to the left of Colonels keeper Cole Morris. All Pham had to do was gather and settle to pass and put it in the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.

That little boost of momentum went a long way for the Knights as it seemed they spent the better part of the next 14 minutes in the James Wood end of the field.

With the ball primarily in Wood territory Champe was able to increase its scoring opportunities and it didn’t take them long to capitalize on another one.

Almost exactly three minutes after their first goal the Knights were able to get on the board again when junior forward Pierre Labib found himself in the right place at the right time.

The Knights (4-5) just missed taking a two-goal lead when a shot from the near side rocketed off the cross bar but the rebound bounced right to Pham on the left side of the Wood goal and while the Colonels and most of the Knights were still looking for the loose ball Pham was lighting up the scoreboard again for the 2-0 advantage.

Things would get worse for the Colonels before they got better.

Trailing by a pair of goals late in the first half Wood tried to spread things out and get some offensive production. Unfortunately that allowed Champe junior midfielder Gustavo Rivas some room to find holes in the defense and he was able to weave his way through the Wood backfield and to the net where he fired a shot into the lower left-hand corner of the goal, giving the visitors a 3-0 advantage.

Discouraged and frustrated, Wood (0-8-1) could have very easily quit and given up but that’s far from what happened and the last two minutes of the first half were played primarily in front of the Champe net. Though no great scoring chances came from that, the momentum was set for the start of the second half.

Continuing with the momentum from the first half the Colonels continued to attack the Knights side of the field for the first 10 minutes of the second half, and they were finally able to make that pay off.

With just under 31 minutes left in the contest sophomore forward Skyler Newlin set up for a free kick just inside the John Champe penalty box. He then sent a perfect shot that floated over the Knights’ wall and just over the outstretched hands of the Champe keeper into the upper left-hand corner of the net to get the Colonels on the board.

Unfortunately for the home faithful just under nine minutes later Rivas stole the momentum back for his team when he scored his second goal of the contest.

Rivas was able to work his way just in front of the Colonels’ net and when a shot came in from the near side towards the goal Morris came out to try and make a play on it. However he was unable to corral it and Rivas was able to collect the loose ball behind Morris and virtually had an empty net to shoot into, making it 4-1.

“Tonight we had more communication, we really haven’t been communicating and we’ve just got to keep our heads up,” Rivas said. “Our last games have been really rough but as a team we just need to try and keep our heads up and win some games. Last year we didn’t win a game but this year we’ve grown as a team and have better team chemistry.

“We came into this game thinking that we were the ones that had to score first. We were thinking we had to set the tone and had to play our game and not play theirs. Once our confidence went up our scoring opportunities went up and that’s how we should be playing every game.”

Once that forth goal hit the back of the net it was like the wind left the Colonels’ sail. Still determined and still fighting they continued to battle but the scoring chances just weren’t there like they were early in the second half and it didn’t make it any easier with the Knights content to sit back on defense and try to protect a three-goal lead.

Not quite seven minutes later the Knights cashed in an opportunity off a corner kick and pushed the lead to 5-1 with about 14:30 left in the game.

“(The first goal) I think that broke our momentum right off the bat,” Wood coach Matt Dunsmore said. “It was like the most unlucky game we could have had today. The bounces went this way and that way and we couldn’t seem to get any to go our way. When it was 3-1 I thought we were going to win. I thought we were going to take it to them but it just wasn’t our night tonight.

“We scored a great goal off a free kick but again in the second half we were a little unlucky. We had a couple of errors that led to goals but that shouldn’t and won’t happen again. We’re young but we’re learning every day and getting better every day and that’s the main thing we focus on. More important then the wins and losses is just getting better every day.”

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