In the 46th minute of a scoreless match, first-year Clarksburg High School boys’ soccer coach Michael Edwards yelled toward the field. Particularly, in the direction of senior midfielder Alejandro Perez-Albela Frias.
“Take this game over,” Edwards said. “You can do it.”
It was a serious vote of confidence when you consider that Frias was playing his first match in nearly two years Monday against Bethesda-Chevy Chase.
The senior missed Clarksburg’s opening three matches of the season with back spasms and previously was sidelined for six months — including his entire junior season — with back issues.
Still, Edwards proved correct in his assertion that Frias could take over.
One minute after the central midfielder heard the motivational pick-me-up, visiting Clarksburg opened the scoring against the Barons thanks in large part to Frias’ inspired run that resulted in an own goal. Frias wasn’t done there as he added a goal of his own in the 76th minute of Clarksburg’s convincing 3-0 victory against Bethesda-Chevy Chase.
“I feel very well integrated,” Frias said. “I feel like I’m connected well with my teammates and we’re getting to know each other better. As we keep on playing more games, we’re going to be a better team as the year goes on.”
On the play leading up to the match’s first goal, Frias — as he already had done twice before — darted down the wing, dribbling by a host of Barons defenders. This time, he found himself nearing the end line and delivered a strong cross toward the goal mouth. B-CC (2-2-0) defender Pascal Iraola attempted to clear the ball high over the crossbar, but accidentally chipped it into his own net to give the Coyotes (2-1-1) the 1-0 lead.
From there, Clarksburg was dominant. In the 56th minute, the Coyotes scored their second goal off a set piece. Senior midfielder Andrew Batin made a strong near-post run and headed Matthew Adedeji’s long throw from the far sideline past Barons goalkeeper Sam Clayton. Clayton appeared to get a piece of the ball, but it still went in. For the 6-foot-3 Batin, his second goal of the season was part of an emotional night.
“I think this game was probably the most enjoyable win of my high school career,” he said. “To come out here with a lot of hype as underdogs against B-CC was big. We marked them on the schedule.”
Edwards was highly complementary of the work Batin did in the middle to win 50-50 balls and steady the game.
“He wins so many balls in the middle that it’s good to see him get recognition for the goal because all the hard work he does there doesn’t show up in the stats,” Edwards said.
Added Frias: “It’s amazing. I’m not the best in the air, so it’s the best of both worlds having a 6-foot-3 player who can jump and I’m good on the ground. We kind of balance each other out.”
The Barons had the run of play in the first half which is partly why the second half was so surprising. Midfielder Tyler Martin nearly connected on a left-footed strike from 25 yards in the seventh minute and three minutes later Alex Van Hollen had a shot from distance that Coyotes goalkeeper Jake Schlenoff barely managed to tip over the crossbar. Still, B-CC’s inability to convert on a number of first-half opportunities ultimately set the Barons back a step in Montgomery County’s ultra-competitive 4A ranks.
“I think that once that ball went in the back of the net it was almost like we lost a little bit of composure and we stopped playing our game,” said Barons coach Guillermo Melendez. “Now we were worried about not losing. We got tighter and we didn’t possess the ball nearly as much.”
Clarksburg 3, Bethesda Chevy-Chase 0
Clarksburg (2-1-1) 0 3 — 3
Bethesda Chevy-Chase (2-2-0) 0 0 — 0
C — Andrew Batin, 56’; Alejandro Perez-Albela Frias, 76’
B-CC — Pascal Iraola, 47’ (own goal)