Bruins shun moral victory


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WOODBRIDGE — Tying the two-time defending Group AAA boys soccer state champion was hardly cause for celebration for Forest Park on Friday night.

The Bruins scored first, but had to settle for a 1-1 draw with West Springfield. Woodbridge transfer Mike Monahan put the home team up in the 43rd minute, but the Spartans responded with a goal from sophomore forward Juan Pabon-Gomez in the 49th minute.

“I look at our goal, and I thought it was well-executed,” Forest Park coach Ken Krieger said. “And their goal came on a mistake on our part.

“They’re the top team in [Northern Virginia] and until someone beats them, they deserve that label.”

If not for what Krieger termed a lack of “defensive organization,” the Bruins (2-0-1) had a opportunity to end an impressive streak for West Springfield (2-0-1), which has not lost a game at full strength since May 2000. The Spartans fell twice last season when nearly half the team was suspended for underage drinking.

Monahan, a senior midfielder, scored off an assist from Billy Harris, who flicked a header toward the net. Brian Lockhart’s throw-in set up the scoring chance.

The lead didn’t last long, though, as Pabon-Gomez broke free just inside midfield and dashed ahead of the entire Forest Park defense. Junior goalkeeper Patrick Clark, who made four saves, was unable to stop the one-on-one rush.

“This game exposed a lot of weaknesses I knew we had,” Krieger said. “Defensive organization is a trademark of my teams, but we just lacked communication and got caught ball-watching. We have some kids who are a little naive and haven’t played at this level.”

West Springfield returned a mere three starters, so coach Randy May says repeating as state champions this year will be far more difficult than last.

“I learned a lot about my team tonight,” May said. “From the time we got the goal, I thought we ended up carrying the play pretty well.”

The Spartans had all seven of the game’s corner-kick opportunities. Though they struggled on set pieces and played a more direct style than usual, they were able to get a tie on the road against last year’s Cardinal District regular-season champions. West Springfield sophomore keeper Matthew Tengs made five saves.

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