2023.05.23 Boys Soccer: Dulles District Boys Soccer Semifinal, Lightridge @ Loudoun County

Leesburg, VA (May 23, 2023) - The Loudoun County Captains had been the front-runner all season, and only a tie with Park View marred an otherwise perfect Dulles District record. In their previous meeting with the Lightridge Lightning, the Captains escaped with a narrow (2-1) victory.

But Lightridge had some momentum after completing their best ever overall and district records, and they were coming off an impressive win at Dominion in the first round of the tournament.

Winning tonight's game--and making it to the championship game--would be an expected step for County or a surprise visit for the Bolts.

Chas Sumser Photography was there to capture the action and emotion and posted a gallery of images from the game.

Typical of any game where the stakes are high, both teams spent the first fifteen minutes passively, using the full field to search for weaknesses to exploit. The tactic paid off for the Captains in the 17th minute when they found Bryan Mora one-on-one with Lightning defender, Daunte Painter, on the left side of the Lightridge penalty area. Without much room to maneuver, Mora still found an opening to fire a shot into the upper right panel for a sudden Loudoun County lead.

Now down a goal, and up against a very well-organized County defense, Lightridge maintained their composure and continued to play with patience. The Bolts were able to get the ball deep on the wing, but the Captains' back line was impenetrable at the eighteen yard line. While the Lightridge offense failed to mount any truly threatening attacks for the remainder of the half, they also thwarted any further scoring by the Captains to keep the margin 1-0 at halftime.

Initially, the pace of the second half remained the same as the first. In the 58th minute, as they had done many times earlier in the game, the Bolts were able to get the ball deep down the right flank resulting in a typically innocent throw-in. But Lightridge used the restart to their advantage and found Ryan Conti open centrally. Conti blistered a shot that cruised hard, fast, and low into the left corner of the Captains' net to tie the score, 1-1.

For the first time all night, the whole field and both sidelines lit up with urgency. Play became much more physical at both ends of the field, but, slowly, the possession advantage began tipping the Captains' way. Some County shots on goal were errant, but Lightridge keeper Joey Wiant was able to stop the ones that were on frame, including one point-blank laser from ten yards out.

With ten minutes remaining in regulation, the Captains lined up for a forty-yard direct kick. The ball lofted into the penalty area and found Mora open for a skimming header that laced the lower left corner of the net for his second goal and the eventual game-winner.

Lightridge continued to press, but time ran out on their upset dreams, and their season came to an end. Loudoun County advances to the tournament championship game against Tuscarora.

Final Score: Loudoun County 2 - Lightridge 1

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