Morris Helps Colonels Tie Millbrook

Posted: May 16, 2016
By JOSH DORSEY
Special to The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — Weather forced the James Wood boys’ soccer team to play its Senior Day game against Millbrook at the Handley Bowl on Saturday.

The venue change came took advantage of Handley’s turf field and avoided the soggy conditions on natural grass after nearly two straight weeks of rain.

Millbrook struck first in the first 40 minutes with a Darin Douglas goal, and Xavier Kallash-Kyler equalized things for the Colonels in the second half before Saturday’s monsoon started with 20 minutes to play.

The teams stayed locked at 1-1 through the 10-minute overtime and left the Handley Bowl with a draw.

Despite not being able to play at home at Kelican Stadium, the Colonels put together their full Senior Day ceremony.

“It was a little chaotic,” said James Wood coach Brian Sullivan. “I know some of the guys were a little bit upset having Senior Day here. We tried to keep it as normal as possible.”

The neutral venue brought on a tournament-type atmosphere — and the Conference 21 West tournament begins Thursday.

“I don’t think we had our best game, that’s for sure,” said Millbrook coach Keith Kilmer. “We did the same we do with everybody. We play high-pressure everything and try not to lay back on anything. A few years ago we played the tournaments here, so it wasn’t all that different than that. We are still in the driver’s seat of third place and in control of third place. That’s as high as we can go.”

Millbrook created a good scoring opportunity within the first 10 minutes on a near breakaway from Jonathan Richards. But Richards’ opportunity was nixed with some great defense from the Colonels’ William Pugh.

After the opportunity the game remained at a lull until the 15th minute. Millbrook hurried its possession on a throw-in down the line and got the ball to Paul Blanco up the wing. With some nifty footwork, Blanco crossed the ball to Douglas, who overpowered a Wood defender and buried a shot past Colonels keeper Cole Morris to give the Pioneers a 1-0 lead.

“Paul Blanco and Darin Douglas have been teammates in travel for a long time,” Kilmer said. “Blanco took it up that left side and played a beautiful ball across. I had just told the guys, ‘Paul needs to find some magic.’ He turns around and plays a great ball to Douglas, and Douglas buried it with a great finish.”

That proved to be the only shot Millbrook could get past Morris all day.

Morris, who had more than 20 saves, frustrated the Pioneers’ offense throughout.

“He had a good game today,” Kilmer said. “You can never take away from a keeper’s good game. He had a great save down here on Ricardo [Sanchez]. He was in the game and did what he had to do.”

Much like in the past, James Wood came out with more spark in the second half.

“I thought the second half and overtime was a lot better than the first half,” Sullivan said. “I thought the first half we came out and looked a little flat. They were kind of taking it to us. We were on our heels the whole time and didn’t have a lot of possession. In the second half, we started evening out the possession and level of play. It wasn’t a pretty goal, but they all count the same. We scrapped one out and then held on a bit in overtime because we were tired.”

The aforementioned goal was a ricocheted ball that landed at the feet of the Colonels’ Xavier Kallash-Kyler. Kallash-Kyler, who was recently called up from the junior varsity team, controlled the ball and skipped a shot into the back of the net in the 50th minute to tie it.

“Xavier has been working hard,” Sullivan said. “He started at JV the first part of the season, and he’s been working his tail off to get up. He’s scored goals in two out of the last three games. He’s going to be a good player for us.”

About 10 minutes after the Colonels’ goal, the rain began and the scoring stopped.

James Wood could not put much offense together, and Morris continued to shut down the Pioneers with some of his most brilliant saves, including a point-blank stop in the 62nd minute.

“I think today we showed that we can defensively take away some of the best players in the league, and that’s Brian [McGuire],” Morris said. “I think we pushed him off the ball and made it hard for him to play. I think we possessed better and came away with the tie.

“It was a tough game with the weather late. I knew I was going to have to make a big save. Some games are slow, but [in] fast games like this you are always attentive and ready to go. I knew he was going to try and push it in the middle, so I just sprawled out and take away as much space as I could.”

“Cole bailed us out,” Sullivan said. “The one was a for-sure goal. We got beat to the inside and he bailed us out there. He made a number of key, clutch saves that kept us in the game. Our keeper was tested a lot more than theirs. It was a great game for him. He saved it for us.”

Both teams were content to leave the makeup game with a tie, especially after the rain began.

“I think we were a little bit more cautious defensively because we knew the ball was going to skip,” Sullivan said. “When the rain started, the wind started blowing against us, so we had to be more sure of our clearances. For the most part, it didn’t really change, but we played a bit more carefully, and I was OK with that.”

The Conference 21 West Tournament quarterfinals are scheduled to begin on Thursday.

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