CHARLOTTESVILLE — Charlottesville’s Abass Osman’s move out of the midfield up to striker this season has clearly had a seismic impact on how the Black Knights’ offense operates.
“He goes 110 percent the entire game,” said CHS senior Neil Fendley. “I do not know how he does it. At times I was tailing off and I just see Abass sprinting down the field after some ball I’ve cleared and I’m like ‘I can do this, I can get back into it.’ He can just draw their whole defense to him and he leaves so many pockets in behind him that we can then play.”
With Osman, a Radford commitment, impacting the defense and Fendley scoring twice, Charlottesville’s offense provided an early cushion. From there, the defense stood tall down the stretch and in the process, the Black Knights’ boys soccer team picked up a critical 2-1 victory over Fluvanna County.
The Black Knights have clearly taken a step forward in the way they’re moving the ball and creating chances with aggressive play up front, and it’s paying dividends.
“At times we’re not going to blister people with pace and strength but we do work on moving the ball as quickly as possible and trying to see who’s open and where we can go next,” said Charlottesville coach Stephen Cost.
Fendley scored the first time on a strong run down the middle of the field. Alexander Wenzel struck a good ball through the Fluvanna defense and Fendley buried the ball in the back of the net for the opening score.
“I was screaming for it and (Wenzel) played a perfect ball and I just put it away and got it past the keeper,” Fendley said.
Fluvanna struggled to recover as key midfielder Dale Ludwig left the game with an ankle injury, which led to what amounted to a scramble as the Flucos tried to re-tool without Ludwig in the lineup.
“When Dale goes down and then…Jordan Thacker goes out it does put a big hole in what we’re trying to do on the field,” said Fluvanna coach Earl Gibson. “(Ludwig) is such a big presence. He kind of controls what goes on in our center midfield…it makes a big difference in organizing ourselves.”
Charlottesville managed to build a 2-0 lead when Fendley connected on a header goal off a Shahir Abdul-Satar corner kick with 31 minutes to play.
“Shahir played that cross in and I just jumped up onto it,” Fendley said. “It hits your head and you get fuzzy for a second but then you look up and I saw it in the net…that felt amazing.”
Fluvanna hung tough though, preventing a blowout by dodging near miss after near miss as the Black Knights kept the attack on.
The Flucos eventually broke through when Quinn Johnson scored with 11:30 to play. Charlottesville held on though, and closed out the 2-1 win.
Now the Black Knights will try and keep the early momentum going in a big district clash with Western Albemarle in Crozet at 7 p.m. Thursday. Fluvanna will try and bounce back the same night when the Flucos host Louisa County.