Warriors answer Warren County's late surge
Warren County gave J.F. Webb a scare in the season opener for each team Monday behind a stellar performance from senior goalkeeper Dontravious Harrison.
The Eagles pulled three goals back in the second half, drawing within one of the home side before the Warriors closed the door in the 76th minute when Zach Espino added the final tally to push the lead to 5-3.
“I’m pleased about effort,” said Travis Packer, in his first game as Warren County head coach. “That’s what I want to see out of my kids. I don’t think any of my students left anything out there. They all tried their best. Sometimes that’s going to come through on the scoreboard and sometimes it’s not. Tonight, it did a little bit. And I’m proud of that.”
Webb built a 4-0 lead by the 55th minute before head coach Sean Barnes allowed his junior varsity players to see the field.
The Eagles got within a goal in the 74th when Ethan Frazier, positioned near the center of the field on the left, sent a deep throw-in toward Ishmael Labra, who settled on the left and knocked it far post for the score.
Back came a full complement of Warrior varsity players including goalkeeper Tyler Blanchard, on for the first time. Jacob Capps, the JV netminder, got the start.
“It’s about the win at that point,” said Barnes. “As soon as varsity came in, we got a goal and were able to kind of ease back.”
Still, it was a good showing for Warren County, fielding its customary coed team. The Eagles finished with one win last season.
Harrison, who earned 2-A Northern Carolina Conference first-team honors in 2012, made an array of athletic stops in each half.
Webb pushed the pace from the onset and dominated possession for the majority of the match.
“They were firing on him and he kept us in that game,” said Packer. “Three goals in the first half. Without him, it could have been eight.”
“He kept them in the game,” Barnes added. “It could have easily been over very quickly. We were on the offensive the whole time.”
A corner kick deflected off the back of Webb’s Josh Liddane for the Warriors’ first goal in the third minute.
Jamie Gomez knocked in another goal, stemming from a corner, in the 20th.
Zackaria Kassim closed the first-half scoring with about three minutes to play when he dribbled in from the right, leaving a trail of Eagle defenders as he slipped it past Harrison from close range.
William Gillespie, a center midfielder, logged game action for the first time since an injury ended his 2012 season prematurely.
“I like the way that Jamie worked with Will,” said Barnes. “Having him back is huge. He was able to press us forward. Having him back to work things and distribute the ball was great.”
Frazier got Warren County on the board in the 62nd, slamming a shot into the upper netting as he approached the penalty area. Mohammed Hussein set up the strike, playing a ball through for Frazier, charging forward on the left.
“It was a beautiful pass,” said Packer. “Those are our two central midfielders. We need them to work well together. Tonight, they showed they can.”
Austin Bender scored the second for Warren County on an assist from Tyler Wester.
The Eagles return to action tonight at Granville Central and Webb hosts South Granville Thursday.
Contact the writer at email@example.com.