Usually when Lafayette High coach Brian Sorrell wants to know something about Group AA boys soccer in the northern part of the state, Dave Gryder is his go-to guy. They were high school soccer teammates in the early 1990s at Stonewall Jackson High in Manassas.
Sorrell said he won't even try to pump Gryder for intel this year. Gryder is, after all, the coach at Tuscarora, the Loudoun County school Sorrell's Rams (18-0-1) host 7 p.m. Tuesday in a Group AA state tournament quarterfinal at Wanner Stadium.
If Sorrell is looking for a source on the Huskies (20-1-2), he might be better off asking Jamestown coach Bobby O'Brien, whose team the Rams beat in a penalty-kick shootout last week to earn the state bid. Jamestown beat Tuscarora 4-3 with a late goal in a thrilling AA state championship game a year ago.
The Huskies return many of their key players from that game, including Angel Ceron Garcia, who scored two goals in the state title game and has netted 22 this season. Sergio Resendiz, who scored the other goal against Jamestown, also is back.
"Dave is a class act, a stand-up guy who really knows a lot about soccer," said Sorrell, who played on Stonewall Jackson's football offensive line with Gryder's brother Tom, before playing football at William and Mary. "He was a striker, a guy who always wanted the ball when we were on the field, and he made honorable mention all-state his senior year.
"I think what you're going to see on Tuesday is a classic offense versus defense matchup."
The coaches mirror their teams in that way. While Gryder played up front in high school seeking out goals, Sorrell was a defender.
Lafayette paved its road to the state tournament for the first time in nine years by shutting out its past nine opponents. Emery Trott leads the Rams with 10 goals and nine assists, but the Rams' sweeper is arguably more valuable for his defensive prowess and excellence in the air.
Alex Emerson has made clutch save after clutch save in the shutout string, the game-winning stop in penalties against Jamestown coming on the heels of two more spectacular saves early in the game. Denzel Speed and the Vacarro brothers, Anthony and Andrew, give the Rams' defense a combination of speed and physicality to complement All-Region I first-team selections Trott and Emerson.
They figure to face their biggest challenge to date against a Tuscarora team that pressured the Briar Woods goal regularly in the Region II final, but finished on the short end of a 2-1 score to lose for the first time this season.
"Patience," Sorrell said, will be the key because Tuscarora likes to build its attack on the ground with lots of quick touches, as opposed to numerous Bay Rivers teams that attack with the long ball through the air.
"We played against a lot of quality soccer teams in the Bay Rivers, have seen a lot of situations and are a fast-paced team, so we'll know how to react," Sorrell said. "We've played twice against (Tabb's) Reilly Maw, who's a heck of a player and we held him in check.
"I think it's huge that we're playing at home, because the seniors realize, no matter what, this is their last time at Wanner Stadium."
Three other Bay Rivers District teams will compete in the state quarterfinals on Tuesday. Below is a brief look at those games.
Woodgrove (17-7) at Warhill (20-4), 6:30 p.m.
Outlook: Woodgrove's varsity lost 10 of 15 players as fallout from violation of school policy earlier this season, and had to consolidate with the junior varsity to field a full team. One of the holdovers is right-hander Kaleb Bowman, a sophomore who already has committed to South Carolina.
Bowman pitched a three-hitter in the 2-0 Region II semifinal win over Potomac Falls that advanced Woodgrove to state. This game has all the makings of a pitchers' duel, as the Lions will start ace Michael Brumfield, the Bay Rivers District Player of the Year, who is 11-1.
Tabb (16-7) at Woodgrove (24-2), 6 p.m.