Keep Playing: Charlottesville boys soccer slips past Albemarle

Photo by Brian Mellott

Whenever Albemarle and Charlottesville boys soccer lock up, it’s going to be a physical clash between a pair of teams with a lot of pride and a lot of success. Both teams have played for state titles in the last couple of seasons and there’s a lot of club team crossover at play too, with seemingly everyone on each roster knowing everyone else.


When you know that’s the case going in, it helps to have experienced players who can handle what immediately becomes a pressure cooker, and Charlottesville’s Ayat Mohamed did his best to handle that environment, eventually coming up with the game-winner in a 3-1 victory over the Patriots.


“Coach told us at the beginning of the game to play through any fouls, to play through any calls and to fight for each other,” Mohamed said. “It was about how mentally tough we were.”


Mohamed’s game-winner came with just under 20 minutes to play was a physical gutty goal, and wasn’t without some controversy. There was a lot of contact on the play in the box before Mohamed’s snuck it through, setting off a lot of celebration for a Black Knights’ squad that endured a pair of losses to the Patriots last season during Albemarle’s state title run.


“Ayat is always one of the hardest workers on the field, getting in every tackle, going for every ball,” said Charlottesville coach Martin Braun. “You know he’s going to challenge for those balls and luckily the ball went in the back of the net.”


With eight minutes left, Malcolm Brickhouse tacked on a third goal to put Charlottesville up 3-1 and put the game away. Nate Fisher had already made several key saves to keep Albemare away from the equalizer, and the Charlottesville defense did a good job of hemming in Albemarle’s speedy forwards.


“We kept our heads high, battled through and believed in each other,” Brickhouse said.


The Black Knights struck first and did it early with an Aidan Folger header off a Brickhouse cross in the first three minutes of the game.


“Give them credit, they’re a really good team and we knew it was going to be tough coming out, that we were going to be tested,” said Albemarle coach Zach Laird. “They came at us hard for the first 15 or 20 minutes and I thought we did a good job of making a comeback.”


The Patriots eventually answered with Brandon Mahon breaking through to make it 1-1 shortly before halftime, and the game was evenly matched throughout, setting the stage for potentially another classic in the second meeting.


“Albemarle is a tough team, we played well, we played tough and we came out with a good result,” Braun said.