Albemarle’s boys soccer team scored early and often in a 7-2 win over Potomac in the 5A North semifinals Tuesday night, clinching a state tournament berth.
The Patriots patented overwhelming attack got two goals in the first 10 minutes in largely the same fashion — a forward sneaking behind the defense. First it was Daniel Starr finding the back of the net, then Wes Cheuk added a tally after speeding past everybody.
Perhaps appropriately, the duo combined on the Patriots’ third goal in the 21st minute. Cheuk streaked down the right side, the same angle he had taken on his goal, and found Starr on a beautiful cross with Starr doing the rest and AHS took complete command.
“It was a great ball from Joe (Maxwell) to get Wes in behind,” Starr said. “Then Wes had a great touch to get it across to me and I just finished it.”
The halftime score may have been even worse if not for the performance of Potomac goalie Moustafa Cisse. He registered five saves in the first half, including a point-blank denial of a Starr shot that looked destined to complete a hat trick for the junior. In the 34th minute, Jason Paz put the Panthers on the board with a blast from 30 yards out over the outstretched arm of AHS keeper Thomas Leckrone. Leckrone registered five saves on the evening.
The momentum didn’t carry over after halftime. In the 48th minute, Andrew Weber was taken down by Potomac’s Juan Delao-Rodriguez. Delao-Rodriguez drew a red card for arguing with the official, putting the Panthers down a man for the rest of the match, and Weber buried the ensuing penalty kick for a 4-1 lead. 15 seconds later, he scored again, this time during normal play off an assist from Cheuk, to put Albemarle up by four.
“It’s just amazing to watch them play, you have to sit back and enjoy it,” Albemarle coach Zach Laird said. “Wes is definitely a big energy guy for us. His speed causes so many problems, but it’s not just having the speed it’s how he uses it.”
Weber drew another penalty in the box in the 51st minute, and this time it was Joey Maxwell who did the honors and Albemarle led 6-1.
Cheuk nearly had his third assist in the 58th minute, but Cisse made a nice stop on a point-blank shot. However, Mohamed Abdelkarim Abajar was there for the rebound and a 7-1 lead. Potomac made the score look a little better in the 64th when Foday Kamara beat Leckrone for the Panthers’ second and final goal.
Albemarle will face Mountain View on Friday for the title.