Solid Step: Albemarle boys soccer shuts out Western

Daniel Starr registered a goal and an assist and Brandon Mahon added another tally as defending state champion Albemarle blanked rival Western Albemarle 2-0 on the road in Crozet Monday night.


Goalkeeper Tobi Abramenko had as clean sheet and six saves for the Patriots, making it the fifth opponent on the season that Albemarle has shut out. The Patriots, hampered by injuries in the early part of the district circuit, improved to 8-1 on the season, its lone loss coming to a Charlottesville team that Western played to a 1-1 draw last Monday.


Starr nearly struck in the 11th minute, but his shot went clanging off the right post. Nine minutes later, however, he fed Mahon on a slick assist and Mahon beat Western’s keeper for a 1-0 lead.


“The boys came out fired up. This is a game where it doesn’t take a lot as a coach to get your team ready,” Albemarle coach Zach Laird said. “We had a lot of injuries coming into tonight and Wes [Cheuk] picked one up this weekend, so a lot of guys had to step up. Those guys wanted their time and they earned it for sure.”


The Warriors (7-3-1), coming off of a 5-0 blowout of Fluvanna, nearly equalized in the 32nd minute when Joey Paulson broke free on the right side of the box, but Abramenko made a sliding save after deciding to challenge at the last second, preserving his team’s 1-0 lead going into the break.


Starr got his goal in the 48th minute when he streaked down nearly the same route as Paulson and this time finished for a 2-0 lead.


“We just got off to such a horrible start and we were in a hole,” Western coach Milo Oakland said. “I thought we played them equal in the second half, but by then we were in a position where it was hard to turn it around.”


Western got more aggressive on the offensive end in the latter stages of the game, but had an apparent goal erased by an offside in the 67th minute, while Abramenko denied a Carter Spillman header off a corner and then a shot from Gabe Nafziger to preserve the shutout.


“This is a game that we’ve been preparing for since before our first game,” Abramenko said. “It means the world to us and we knew we had to come out with everyone playing their best game, and everyone came in and put in a heck of a game. We played safe when we needed to, we played patient, and we controlled the game from the back.”


Albemarle will travel to Louisa on Thursday, while Western will host Powhatan. The two teams will meet again at AHS on May 15.