Albemarle’s boys soccer team’s senior night ceremony highlighted just how young the Patriots’ roster is as just three players were recognized prior to the squad’s clash with Halifax in the Conference 16 semifinals. Those seniors are critical parts of the puzzle, but if Albemarle is going to make a postseason run, they’re going to need a lot from their underclassmen.
Playing in its first game that really counted, that young roster didn’t look rattled. They looked ready.
“Everyone was ready,” said Albemarle coach Scott Jackson. “It’s a long season and everybody is ready to play games of consequence. They were excited.”
Albemarle powered its way to a 6-0 victory over Halifax, earning a spot in the Region 5A North playoffs and a chance to play for a Conference 16 title Friday.
One of those three seniors, Eliya Budugure got Albemarle’s scoring started with a first half goal, but the Patriots cranked things up when the sophomores got going. Jeff Collins scored essentially back-to-back goals to push the lead to 3-0 with 11:30 left in the first half.
“We’ve been asking Jeff to raise his level a little bit and today he responded,” Jackson said. “He’s been doing a really nice job in practice, but he’s really raised his game the last two weeks.”
Collins’ classmate Ethan Tribastone then pushed the lead to 4-0 with a blast from way outside late in the first half that all but put the game out of reach. In the second half, Michael Vaughn and Mohammed Abakar added two more goals. Vaughn, one of those three seniors, was steady throughout while fellow senior Budugure continues to provide a dynamic presence up top for Albemarle.
“Michael has been really our heart and soul all season all season and he continues to lead by example,” Jackson said. “Eliya is a kid who has been in the program for three years, I love him to death. He keeps getting better and better.”
Keepers Thomas Leckrone and Jake Hahn combined for the shutout in net.
Albemarle will hit the road Friday to take on Patrick Henry-Roanoke in the Conference 16 final.