Warriors net breakthrough

Published 10:01 pm Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Nansemond River High School junior Sasha Karlov, right, charges forward with the ball against host Lakeland High School on Tuesday. He contributed a goal to the Warriors' 11-0 rout of the Cavaliers.

Nansemond River High School junior Sasha Karlov, right, charges forward with the ball against host Lakeland High School on Tuesday. He contributed a goal to the Warriors’ 11-0 rout of the Cavaliers.

Nansemond River High School’s boys’ soccer team followed up some recent unprecedented Southeastern District wins by defeating host Lakeland High School 11-0 on Tuesday to claim sole possession of second place in the district for the first time.

“It’s a good feeling, probably more for the kids because we have such a veteran group,” coach Dustin Tordoff said. “It’s good to be up in the upper echelon of it rather than fighting for sixth and seventh.”

Goals on Tuesday came from sophomore Maycol Reyes, who had three, and junior Sasha Karlov, senior David Miller, sophomore Dylan Heyman, senior Daniel Tallarico, senior Daniel Brickhouse, sophomore Canandez Long, senior Maliq Webster and junior Sterling McGee.

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To achieve second place in the district, the Warriors made school history this season with their inaugural win over host Great Bridge High School on April 8.

Then, they achieved their inaugural win over Grassfield High School while playing host on Friday.

“They made me proud tonight,” Tordoff said after the game. “They made everybody proud.”

The score was tied 1-1 at halftime, and early on in the second half, the Warriors got a direct free kick about 22 yards away from Grassfield’s goal on the left side of the field.

The area in front of the goal was packed with players from both teams as Reyes took the kick. The ball arched over the players and curled directly into the goal.

“That was about as good as you can hit that kick,” Tordoff said. “He didn’t miss his mark by anything. I think he hit it exactly how he wanted to hit it. I think that’s about where you just kind of go, ‘Wow.’”

After that, sophomore goalkeeper David Wright and the Warriors defense withstood a flurry of attacks from the Grizzlies to help achieve a 2-1 victory.

“It’s probably one of the top wins in the program,” Tordoff said.

Nansemond River pulled off a big win last season against Midlothian High School in the regional quarterfinals, but Friday’s victory came against a more familiar opponent that has embarrassed the Warriors in times past.

A big turnaround was evident last year when Nansemond River held the Grizzlies scoreless for a 0-0 tie.

“We were able to do a little more this year and come away with the win,” Tordoff said. “So, it’s been building.”

The Warriors were the first to score on Friday. Maliq Webster made a strong midfield tackle and pushed the ball to senior Yousef Al-Sarraf, who played a nice through ball to senior Brayan Morales, who moments later pushed the ball past the keeper for the goal.

Grassfield evened the score late in the first half.

“They were fast, they were strong, they were skilled,” Tordoff said of the Grizzlies.

He did not want to risk any temporary let up on defense by inserting substitutes who would naturally need some time to acclimate to game speed, so he kept his starters in for the duration of the game.

The defenders included senior Brandon Dowden, sophomore Justin Littlejohn, Daniel Brickhouse and sophomore Christian Melton.

“David Wright played an amazing game in the net,” Tordoff said. “He came up with some big saves.”

Praising Al-Sarraf for playing a huge part in the win, the coach said, “He helps keep a lot of pressure off of the defense.”

Tordoff also highlighted Sterling McGee when he said, “This was probably one of his better games, and it was the one he didn’t score in. The goals aren’t the only thing that matter.”

The coach ultimately described the game as a 22-man win, noting that even the team members who did not play have been properly pushing the starters in practice.

“I’m just fortunate to have these kids that want to go out there and succeed and just do everything they can for each other,” Tordoff said.

Nansemond River (7-2) hosts Gloucester High School on Tuesday to open conference play.