Warriors off to 1-0 start

Published 10:08 pm Thursday, March 17, 2016

A deep Nansemond River High School boys’ soccer team got its 2016 season going with a 40-minute session of strong defense on Wednesday at Oscar Smith High School.

The Warriors held a 1-0 lead at halftime, and as the second half was about to begin, lightning halted the game. After a wait and the prospect of continued weather delays, the Tigers’ coach agreed to consider the game concluded, which is possible to do if a half has been completed.

NR coach Dustin Tordoff would have liked to get a full game in, but he was pleased to get the win.

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“We played well,” he said. “We didn’t give up a shot.”

Oscar Smith created some chances with some long throw-ins, “but the goalie was about to clean them up well.”

That goalie was sophomore David Wright, who registered the shutout.

Tordoff said his team’s goals on defense were to prevent corner kicks, free open shots and, ultimately, goals.

“We were able to meet the goals that we had set, even though it was only one half of the game,” he said.

Offensively, the Warriors were in control of the ball for the majority of the half. Tordoff noted that it took a little bit for his team to get into the game. Nerves likely play a role with it being the first game of the season.

He said Nansemond River had a lot of scoring chances, and it “should have finished more than one.”

One proved to be enough, and it came from junior midfielder Sterling McGee, who moved into Nansemond River’s zone and transferred from King’s Fork High School.

“It is a good pick-up,” Tordoff said of McGee. “He does a really good job on the field.”

McGee is part of what Tordoff called his deepest team he has had.

Many players have returned from last year’s squad that went 12-6-2, reaching the Region 4A South semifinals for the second straight year.

Now the Warriors must navigate the competition found in Group 5A after the school moved up to the classification for the 2015-16 school year. NR is now part of the PenSouth Conference.

“I don’t really know that much about the Peninsula schools,” Tordoff said. “I’m hopeful that we can go in and compete well. I think we have the best team that I’ve ever had.”

When forming the 2016 pre-season scrimmage schedule, the Warriors’ coach included 5A teams that were good last year — Maury High School and Princess Anne High School.

Nansemond River beat Maury 5-0 and tied Princess Anne 1-1 in the scrimmages.

The Warriors will miss Axel Lopez, who moved with his family to Portsmouth and now plays for Woodrow Wilson High School. Joan Cueto, a foreign exchange student, moved back to Spain, and Austin Heyman and Justin Naylor graduated.

But key players returning this year include senior forward Brayan Morales, sophomore midfielder Maycol Reyes, senior midfielder Yousef Al-Sarraf, sophomore defender Justin Littlejohn and senior goalkeeper Zack Busch.

Tordoff noted he could start 16 to 17 players on his roster.

“This is my biggest group of seniors,” he said. “There’s nine seniors and six of them are four-year lettermen with the school.”

Nansemond River (1-0) visits Deep Creek High School on Friday.