Leesburg (May 13, 2013) – Tuscarora High School senior striker Kevin Nerio earned a 16th minute penalty kick and that was the difference in the Huskies 1-0 victory over the Potomac Falls Panthers Monday evening in a match that decided the Dulles District regular-season championship.
“He left everything he had out there. I don’t know if he had much more he could have given us,” Tuscarora’s head coach Dave Gryder said of Nerio. “Kevin has the fighter mentality where he is going to give it all. He’s a tough kid.”
Sophomore midfielder Sergio Resendiz took the penalty kick for Nerio and scored the game’s lone goal, rocketing the ball into the back of the net. The win earns Tuscarora (13-0-2 overall, 8-0-0 in district) the district’s top seed for regional play.
It was a physical, defensive performance from both teams — highlighted by two tremendous saves by Huskies’ senior keeper Adam Kight, who protected the Tuscarora lead when Potomac Falls had two late chances on goal.
“He made some critical saves there at the end. He wasn’t tested a whole lot and all of a sudden when we needed him to come through he did,” said Gryder who led the Huskies to last year’s Virginia State AA Final. “I think that’s just staying focused and involved in a game and being a senior knowing what’s at stake.”
With just under four minutes left in the contest, Potomac Falls’ goalkeeper Ian Waltz took a shot on a free kick from 25-yards out, which missed wide right. However, the goalie got another shot as Tuscarora was carded prior to the kick.
Waltz made the most of his second chance soaring a shot headed for the upper right hand corner of the net, but Kight punched the ball, deflecting it over the crossbar.
“He stepped up. It was a huge shot and a huge deflection,” Gryder said. “It’s a game changer right there on their part if it goes in, momentum swings again. He came through.”
The deflection led to a Panther’s corner kick where Kight would once again display his athleticism and experience in net.
“I think tonight experience came into play, they’re not use to playing games that are important,” said Kight, who with the 1-0 win picked up his 10th shutout of the season. “I think we were more relaxed coming into it.”
Potomac Falls (12-3 overall, 7-1 in the district) placed the late corner kick in the middle of the box and Kight lunged forward, sliding to save the ball which rebounded to his left. He then quickly recovered, shielding the ball just before the Panthers pounced on their opportunity to score.
“Moving with the play, staying mentally connected with the play and talking a lot kind of keeps you stay focused and in the mindset when you’re not seeing a lot of action,” Kight, who was named to both the Dulles District and VRegion II first teams in 2012, said.
Defense was at its premium throughout the match, which should come as no surprise as Tuscarora’s defense has posted seven zeroes in the district while Potomac Falls has secured seven shutouts overall.
“We knew we were going to have to stay organized,” Gryder, the 2012 Region II Coach of the Year, said. “We have made some adjustments since the middle of the season and put some other people back there and it’s worked out. We’re doing a lot better job organization wise and not letting people get behind us.”
A major slip in the Panther’s defense came in the 60th minute when one of their top defender was dismissed from the match following a foul. Potomac Falls had to play down a man and Tuscarora exploited the tactical advantage through quick ball movement and supreme ball handling.
Tuscarora and Potomac Falls will both host in the first round of the Dulles District tournament, which starts on Friday, May 17 at high-seeded schools.