Jake Hamley scored two goals and added an assist April 8 as Carroll County dropped its home boys’ soccer opener 4-0 to Christiansburg.
Ryan Hepburn and Tyler Harrison both added goals for Christiansburg (3-1, 1-1 River Ridge). Carroll County head coach Corey Williams was visibly upset with his team as the Blue Demons stayed on the attack most of the night and limited the Cavaliers to just two shots on goal.
Injuries and youth have been issues in the early going for Carroll County (0-3-1, 0-3 River Ridge), but the Cavaliers have shown some flashes. Carroll held leads of 2-0 and 4-2 in the season opener before falling at River Ridge foe Pulaski 8-5. The Cavaliers followed that up with an impressive game on April 3, earning a 1-1 tie at local power Galax before falling 7-1 the following night at Cave Spring.
“The kids were really hyped up about Galax and they showed a lot of enthusiasm. We expended a lot of energy in the overtime game against Galax, so I expected to come out flat Friday against Cave Spring when we went there,” Williams said. “Last night I was hoping after some rest they would come out and play with more enthusiasm and make up for the showing at Cave Spring. I didn’t feel like we did that. Going into this new district with Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Cave Spring, and Pulaski, they play the ball really well as a team. In the Southwest District, that was a concept that was new to everybody. We’ve been working on it the last couple of seasons and it hasn’t really clicked in very well yet. That was what I was frustrated with last night. It seemed like we were trying to play hero ball and sort of lost that team concept. We tried to beat everybody one-on-one and it clearly wasn’t working.”
Chris Burnett made five saves in goal for Carroll. Despite the loss at Pulaski, Williams felt like the Cavs played well in the opener, especially after Tyler Garcia scored on a drive just 15 seconds into the game. Luis Avelar scored two minutes later to put Carroll up 2-0. The Cougars responded with four straight goals before Daniel Gonzalez, Hunter Edwards and Thristan Belton all scored to put Carroll back in front 5-4.
“Other than intrasquad scrimmages, we hadn’t had any other opponents in a month and it kind of showed toward the end as they scored four to win 8-5,” Williams said. “To be the first game I was really happy with how they played. We worked the ball well and five different players scored in that game. I thought it was good experience.”
Avelar scored Carroll’s only goal in the tie at Galax, although Williams said Garcia came within the width of the goalpost of scoring a potential game winner against the Maroon Tide. Garcia also scored Carroll’s only goal in the loss at Cave Spring.
“We had strong showings against Pulaski and Galax. The Galax game was like a taste of prime rib of how we can play and what we can do together as a team,” Williams said. “But then last night was more like a hamburger steak.”
Williams knows Carroll faces a tough challenge this season in its first year in the River Ridge District. He also knows that the increased level of competition will only make the Cavaliers better if they continue to work hard and buy in to the program.
“We are a work in progress right now. The style the River Ridge plays is more what you see at the collegiate level and even the professional level. The kids aren’t used to it,” Williams said. “It will take some time, but I think we have the players that can benefit in this system, not only this year, but also with who we have on the JV team. Once we get used to the style and can match it, I think it will benefit us down the road.”