Handley boys beat Colonels for fifth straight win | Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — This isn’t the 2021 Handley boys’ soccer workforce.

The Judges scored twice within the last 17 minutes to beat James Wood 2-0 and proceed their exceptional rebound from 2021 at James R. Wilkins Jr. Stadium.

Handley (5-1-1, 4-1 Class 4 Northwestern District) earned its fifth straight win and fourth straight shutout in beating the defending district champion Colonels (5-3-1, 2-2-1), who ended the Judges’ disappointing 0-8-3 season final 12 months with an 8-0 victory within the Class 4 Northwestern District quarterfinals.

Junior Jonathan Romero scored the successful objective on a nook kick rebound within the 63rd minute, then sophomore Jag Fitzsimmons-Call battled a protracted ball away from a defender and blasted it in with a minute to go for an insurance coverage objective.

Scoring alternatives had been exhausting to return by Thursday — the Judges completed with a 6-4 shot edge — however Handley continues to provide itself alternatives to win with its general workforce play.

“It feels amazing to be winning every single game now, especially against James Wood,” mentioned Romero, who kicked in a ball that freshman defender Jackson Justice headed straight forward off the left put up after sophomore Dash Fitzsimmons-Call performed his nook from the appropriate aspect.

A returning varsity participant, Romero referenced the 8-0 district rating in his feedback. Handley coach Cosmo Balio instructed the Judges earlier than the sport to maintain that rating of their heads previous to the sport.

The Judges didn’t come out firing. Both coaches agreed that the Colonels had the higher efficiency in a primary half that didn’t see the Judges take a shot till there was solely a pair minutes left. But Handley solely allowed one shot that critically examined Judges goalkeeper Owen Turnbull (4 saves).

“I feel like we’ve just kind of been preaching about being one percent better every day,” mentioned Balio, who’s main the Judges for the primary time since guiding them to the 2016 convention and district titles. “The guys have really bought into that. There’s nothing really special or different to what we’re doing. I feel like they’ve just bought into being a team, and they tasted something last year that they never want to taste again.”

Justice is among the heart backs for a protection that additionally options sophomore James Fowler, senior Robert Avant and freshman Eniel Cedillo Ramos Jr. Handley has simply 4 seniors general, however the workforce has grown rather a lot from a 0-1-1 begin.

“Definitely our composure and our confidence,” Jackson mentioned. “I feel like at the beginning we were a little skittish with a lot of freshmen and sophomores coming in, but as the season has gone on and we kept winning games, we’ve just built up confidence and just gotten a lot better.”

James Wood had the sport’s first harmful alternative, as Ryan King headed a protracted throw-in into the field from Micah Frigaard towards the higher left nook of the objective. Turnbull punched the header away from objective for a nook kick, although.

The Colonels did properly over the rest of the half. Balio mentioned he challenged his gamers at halftime to boost their degree, and within the midfield he favored the play of the Fitzsimmons-Call brothers and he felt Edgar Sanchez offered a spark.

Balio praised Handley’s defensive again line for its communication this 12 months, which is resulting in success. He mentioned the Judges’ general protection begins with what they do on the ahead place, although.

“We try to keep the line of confrontation higher to take the heat off our back line,” mentioned Balio, who labored exhausting on the workforce’s health at first of the season so the Judges may create extra strain everywhere in the area. “[The back line is] reaping the benefits of pressure up top. And we have some trees in the back. I think in general we’re able to win balls in the air, and that helps us.”

One of these bushes helped produce the successful objective. Jackson mentioned nobody was marking him on Dash Fitzsimmons-Call’s nook kick.

“As the ball came in I just flew in there and just tried to put my head on it, and it worked out,” Jackson mentioned.

Romero was there for the tap-in, and Handley’s protection prevented James Wood from getting one other shot off earlier than Jag Fitzsimmons-Call’s objective. Ramon Diaz-Guzman had the help.

James Wood misplaced for the third time in 4 video games and has only one objective in these three losses.

“I thought we had the better of play in the first half, more opportunities in the first half and were doing our thing,” mentioned Colonels coach Brian Sullivan, who nonetheless has but to get Tristan Obert (eight objectives, eight assists final 12 months) again from an harm suffered six months in the past. “But then very much like the Millbrook game last Friday and the Loudoun Valley game Monday, it’s us wearing down in the second half. I haven’t put my finger on whether it’s fitness yet, or we need to make some changes. But we’re just not creating enough opportunities going forward.

“And then there’s just this relentless pressure on our back line, and eventually, the other team is going to get a set piece or a corner or something that we make a mistake on. We have to get better.”

Balio mentioned one other issue within the workforce’s success is the rapport he has with Scott Bucey, a former assistant to Balio who took over as head coach after he left, and Seth Bridgeforth, who starred on the 2016 Handley workforce. Those three work properly collectively, and the gamers are responding.

“We feed off each other, and the coaching has been brilliant in that aspect in that Scott interjects, then I interject, then Seth,” Balio mentioned. “The kids absolutely look up to Seth as a role model and they’re always asking him questions.

“We’re clicking right now. I don’t know what the future for this team is, but I’m pretty happy with them right now.”

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