After Kevin Broderick finished shaking the hands of the defeated Centreville Wildcats, he turned to his Chantilly players huddled in for post-game speech and wiped some sweat off his brow.
“We are an ugly winning team,” he announced to the rest of the Chargers, who narrowly avoided a loss in their first district game of the season.
Chantilly beat Concorde foe Centreville, 9-6, on Tuesday night.
It might seem harsh coming from the coach of a 9-1 team that finished as the state runner-up last season, but as the Chargers creep deeper into the district schedule, they’re finding anything less than 100 percent effort won’t win games.
“There’s an awful lot of parity in the Concorde District now,” Broderick said. “If you don’t bring you’re A game, every game, then you can lose.”
Against Centreville, the Chargers found themselves in a tight battle from start to finish.
The Wildcats, who have been one of the district’s surprise teams with an 8-2 start, exchanged leads with Chantilly in the first half. At the end of the first two quarters, the score stood tied at 5-5, and Chantilly had to claw out of a 4-2 hole early in the second to even the score.
“We didn’t really start that well today,” said junior midfielder Conrad Unterkofler, who scored two goals in the game. “Centreville was playing really well. We just needed to play harder at the start and grind out our mistakes.”
Centreville’s offensive attack of Nathan Marks, Zack Sikora and Andy Balberde had managed to push the Chargers in the first half, but in the second half Chantilly settled down.
After giving up an early second half goal, Chantilly’s Mike Marson scored and sparked a three-goal run to take a 9-6 lead, which stood up in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
The win is Chantilly’s first in the district this season, but it also exposed a potentially harmful trait — the Chargers feel as if they play down to their opponents at times.
“Sometimes we just play down,” Unterkolfer said. “I guess it’s just the Chantilly thing, but we overcame it. We played OK in the first half, but in the second half we got more shots and just started playing much better.”
Instead of dominating teams and controlling games, Chantilly is grinding out wins and surviving early mishaps.
“I’m not sure we’re playing to the best of our ability right now,” Broderick said. “We play down to the level of competition a bit. We just didn’t play very well, but when we got to end of the game we played strong defense and that created transition to let the offense take over.”
Regardless of whether or not the Chargers were playing at their best, a win is a win in the Concorde. The district figures to be one of the most competitive in the Northern Region, and Broderick hopes the team can build upon Tuesday night’s mistakes in time for Friday’s road game against Oakton.
“This is a really loose group and this gives them a bit of confidence,” he said. “We know that if we don’t play our best game against Oakton, we’ll be down 6-0 or 7-0, so this is a good wake-up call for us.”