The winning ways continued last week for the Herndon High boys’ soccer team, which won non-district contests over both Falls Church and Fairfax High Schools to boost its early season record to 5-0.
The Hornets, playing Fairfax in a steady rain and windy conditions, prevailed over the Rebels by a 3-2 score in a game played on April 3.
Conditions were hardly manageable, but both teams fought hard in the difficult weather.
"It was a nasty, driving rain and cold," said Herndon coach Sean Lanigan.
Herndon, in the win, out-shot its opponent, 17-2, in the first half as it built a 2-0 lead. First half goals for the Hornets were netted by junior striker Sean Murnane (9 goals, 1 assist on the season) and senior striker Joe Godbout, who scored his second goal of the season. Both goals came on assists by senior center midfielder Chris McLaughlin (5 goals, 10 assists).
Herndon controlled every aspect of the first half as it moved the ball precisely through the midfield and got crosses and great feeds into the box. But the Hornets, although they scored twice, missed several open shots wide or high of the net.
"We dominated the first half and it was very frustrating to be up [only] 2-0 at halftime," said Lanigan.
<b>THE SECOND HALF</b> was a different ball game as Fairfax came to life. The Rebels possessed the ball well and dumped long balls in the pouring rain, bypassing the midfield, with hopes that their striker could run onto it and score.
Fairfax’s plan worked in the 65th minute as its striker was able to dribble into the box and earn a penalty kick to get the Rebels within 2-1.
Not more than five minutes later, a Fairfax midfielder was allowed to dribble 60 yards right to Herndon’s goal untouched before calmly bending a ball into the net for the equalizer.
For the first time all season, Herndon, with the game tied at 2-2, was faced with the challenge of picking up its game and earning the victory, and it did just that.
Herndon had several near misses before Murnane, from 12 yards out, found the net again to get the game winner with three minutes to play.
"Fairfax did not press again after they tied it," said Lanigan, pleased with the way his team responded following the Rebels’ game-tying goal with 10 minutes left to play.
It marked the third win of the week for the Hornets, who earlier had beaten South Lakes, 5-1, on Monday, and Falls Church on Wednesday.
Lanigan credited Fairfax.
"They are not a bad team," he said. "They have a fast [player] up front. It was the third game of the week, and our legs were tired. It was the first time we’ve been pressed like that and the guys were a little shook up."
Lanigan was pleased with his team’s clutch play after Fairfax tied up the score.
"They rose to the challenge," he said. "To me, it felt like we were [trailing] even though the game was tied. It was nice to see the guys dig down deep a little."
The coach said that because of the weather conditions, he used his bench differently then he would have in normal playing conditions.
"It was so cold and wet, it took guys 20 minutes off the bench to get ready to play," he said. "So you couldn’t get guys on and off the field freely. It was a hard night to get kids in and out of the game."
<b>A DAY EARLIER</b>, Herndon had an easier time in its win over visiting Falls Church.
Highlights included senior Yazen Sleem blasting his second goal of the season from 25 yards over the Jaguar goal keeper, and Murnane slotting three goals for his first hat trick of the season. The result was a victory over the Falls Church team.
In the win, McLaughlin assisted two of Murnane’s goals.
The Herndon back line of Luke Merrill, Sol Mourtaza and Alex Darwiche blanked the Falls Church attack as Herndon enjoyed a 27 to 3 shot advantage on goal.
Herndon junior Uwem Etuk provided many quality, highlight moves on the flanks, feeding the strikers all night with great balls. But many of the opportunities went high or just wide of the net.
Anatole Doak was a beast at his defensive midfield position, shutting down everything that came at him and providing several excellent outside shooting opportunities.
Lanigan, with his team leading 4-0 at halftime, was able to get all his players into the contest,
"It was a relatively easy win for us," said Lanigan. "It was a good team win, a morale win."
Herndon was scheduled to play Concorde District games this week against Chantilly on Monday and Robinson this Friday night.