Ashburn, Va. — Coming off a 3-0 win over previously unbeaten Independence, the Riverside High School boys soccer team was looking to turn their 5-game winning streak into six when they traveled to Ashburn to battle rival Stone Bridge in a Potomac District clash. Having already beaten the Bulldogs, 2-1, in their first matchup of the season on April 13, the Rams got right to business in the rematch, taking the lead in the 22nd minute, adding to it in the 28th minute, and putting the game out of reach in the 55th minute, before eventually blanking the Bulldogs, 5-0, on May 1 in Ashburn.
“A win like this means a lot knowing the boys are still checked in with a good mindset of what we want to accomplish this year,” Riverside head coach Kiernan Harris said. “This is a rivalry, so we like to play well against them.”
Riverside senior Alex Balkey got the scoring started when he struck the upper 90° from 20 yards out on a pass from classmate Jake Moyer at the midway point of the first half.
Six minutes later, the Rams earned a free kick from 30 yards out which senior Carlos Lozano placed beautifully on the right post as senior Cam MacIntyre ran the set piece beautifully, heading the ball past the keeper to put Riverside up 2-0.
“We settled in after we got the first two goals,” Harris said. “The first one was a nice combination by Balkey and Moyer, which gave us the combination to keep attacking. The second goal off the free kick gave us more confidence that it was coming and that we just needed to keep possession and take our chances when they were in front of us.”
With a 2-goal lead and an energetic confidence, Riverside freshman forward Moises Argueta Garcia sped past his defender, took a shot, recovered the rebound, and scored in the 55th minute to extend the Rams’ lead to 3-0.
The Rams weren’t content with a 3-goal lead as 90 seconds later senior Nickolas Apostolou snuck past his man then threaded a low needle across the front of the net to add to the Riverside lead.
Finally, with less than two minutes to play, senior Jack Voci got in on the scoring as he beat the Stone Bridge keeper to the bottom left as the Rams put an exclamation point on their 5-0 win.
While the scoring was all Riverside, Stone Bridge did have some chances, particularly in the first half when junior Benjamin Kurowski fired a shot just above the crossbar in the 8th minute.
Then, before the Rams had gotten on the board, the Bulldogs peppered the Rams defense with a flurry of quick shots, before sophomore Mustafa Elwasila got an open look but kicked it right into the arms of Riverside sophomore keeper Cameron Farrell.
Just three minutes later, Stone Bridge senior Ryan Lilly sent a cross to sophomore Chris Smith who headed a shot on goal, but again Farrell was there to preserve the shutout.
With six straight wins, the Rams (5-1-0, 10-1-1) will host Potomac Falls in another Potomac District rematch on May 4 in Leesburg. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs (4-2-0, 8-3-1) will look to get back on track when they host Independence in Ashburn.
“We’re talking, communicating, and just playing well together,” Harris said. “We just have to keep playing the way we’re playing, keep possessing, keep taking our chances, keep moving the ball around, and keep everyone checked in.”
For Riverside, these next few matches are key as they look to finish out the season strong and try to make another deep run in the playoffs, following a state championship game appearance in 2022.
“We want to make another deep run in the playoffs, and these guys experienced it as juniors,” Harris said. “All 15 seniors were on that team, so they know what it takes, and they want to get back there, especially with the state championship game being at Riverside this year.”