Yet even with a limited roster, and despite playing a man down for more than 50 minutes, Washington-Lee scraped out a 1-0 non-district win over Langley, with Shane MacNamara’s penalty kick in the 65th minute deciding the outcome in Arlington.
“Our guys kept fighting, I’m very proud of them,” senior defender Jack Beckman said. “In the past I know teams that would have quit and I’ve been on teams that have quit. When they’re down they stop going for it. But these guys picked it up.”
Washington-Lee (3-1) had done well to absorb the pressure in the second half as Langley looked to push more with a man advantage. But the aggressive, energetic play of junior forward Cristhian Pinto showed that the Generals, too, could go at goal.
Pinto, who teammates call “Pinto Beans” because of his energetic play and small size, dribbled through and around several defenders, igniting the crowd. In the 65th minute, he drew a defender toward the edge of the box near the end line and collided in a tackle.
The referee blew his whistle for a penalty, a questionable call considering where the play occurred and that the ball went out of bounds and was clearly not a scoring opportunity, but nonetheless MacNamara stepped to the spot and converted the kick to the lower left side.
Pinto “made a great play,” MacNamara said. “I just felt like I had to take it, I had the confidence. You have a confidence in a PK, that’s the most important thing.”
Langley (2-1) was also short-handed in the game. The Saxons were without four players, including three experienced starters – Rhys Howard, Justin Galiani and Oliver De Thier – who, like Schmidt, were at a club tournament in Las Vegas. Langley Coach Bo Amato, who coaches that club team, was also absent and sophomore Sepehr Harandi was out with an injury.
The Saxons certainly missed the firepower of Galiani and De Thier. They failed to convert several close opportunities near the end of the first half and at the start of the second.
In the end, though, Washington-Lee did enough to overcome its absences and players said doing so will provide a boost to a team that has now shown it can win without its star.
“It was huge,” Generals Coach Jimmy Carrasquillo said. “Not that we rely on Schmidty or on one or two players, but we showed if we come together, if we fight hard, we can beat anybody.”