By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
PikeView still has hopes of reaching the top of the Hill in West Virginia soccer.
Laura Hill scored two goals, including the game winner with 20:34 left in the game, and the PikeView girls soccer team defeated Pocahontas County 3-2 in the Region 3 championship game on a chilly Tuesday night at Nicholas County High School’s Memorial Stadium.
The game started much later than expected because of the long boys game, but it was worth the wait for the Panthers (16-4-2), who will make their third Class AA/A tournament appearance in the last four years on Nov. 2-3 in Beckley.
The Panthers have won five straight sectional titles and three regional crowns in the last four years.
“I am just tickled to death for this group of girls,” PikeView head coach Sam Hill said. “As it has been talked about ad nauseum with our injuries, for them to be able to fight through and get this opportunity is fantastic.”
PikeView will play either Wheeling Central or Fairmont Senior in the state semifinals on Nov. 2 in Beckley.
Pocahontas County (11-6-1) rallied from a 2-0 deficit to tie the score at 2-2, but the Warriors wouldn’t score again over the final 35:18 of the game, with PikeView goalkeeper Kristen Brinkley making several saves to secure the win.
“We had good competitors, these girls have been playing each other all through high school and we knew it was going to come down to the very end,” Pocahontas County head coach Kathy White said. “We are proud of all of our girls, we played some competitive soccer and we wish PikeView a lot of luck next week.”
Madison May also scored a goal for PikeView, which had played the Warriors once this season, winning that one 1-0. Samantha Walton scored both goals for Pocahontas County.
PikeView jumped ahead 2-0 on goals by Hill and May with 16:22 left in the opening half, but that may not have been a good thing for the Panthers.
“They are a well-coached team with a lot of quality athletes and good players and you anticipated a good match,” Sam Hill said. “Probably the worst thing that ever happened was us getting a two-goal lead because we decided quit playing there.
“It has been said that is the hardest lead to play with. You play with one you keep fighting, you play with three the other team maybe lays down, but two everybody the other team is still fighting.”
PikeView was able to take the lead for good when Hill took a feed from Crysta Meekins in front of the net and used her left foot to kick the ball past Pocahontas County goalkeeper Lorena Rose with just over 20 minutes left in the game.
It was the type of shot that Hill has grown used to seeing from his daughter, who now has 59 goals on the season, adding to her unofficial state record, having broken the mark of 53 set last year by PikeView’s Hope Nester, who has been out this season with a knee injury.
“When you an all-state player much like 17 (Walton) for them, those players have to step up and make those types of plays for sure,” Sam Hill said. “That was the left foot, the off foot, a quality shot for her and obviously it was a big one to win the game for us.”
A physical contest that saw several timeouts for injuries, Hill put PikeView up with nibble footwork on the right side of the end zone on what is also an artificial turf football field and kicked it past a diving Rose into the net just 4:20 into the game.
PikeView added a second goal with 6:22 left in the half when May was able to get to a pass by Charlotte Webster and kicked it past Rose into the net for the 2-0 lead. It was May’s 10th goal of the season.
Pocahontas County (11-6-1) narrowed the margin to 2-1 with 1:38 left in the half when Walton kicked the ball in the left corner of the net past Brinkley.
“We got better (in the second half),” Hill said. “The first half, the last 20 minutes, we just cut the switch off and quit playing there. We started going backwards and sitting back way too deep and I was so frustrated, I couldn’t get the girls to come back out of there.”
Walton then tied it at 2-2, getting the ball away from PikeView defenders and kicking the ball in with 34:45 on the clock. That was followed by zero goals for the Warriors.
“That is the only thing we have talked about at halftime was let’s get out of the defensive half of the field a little bit quicker and put a little more pressure on them earlier and let’s don’t defend right in front of our goal and we did that,” Hill said.
Walton, like Hill, is an all-state performer who not only scored both goals for Pocahontas County, but had several other chances that were stopped by PikeView defense and Brinkley in the net.
Much like Hill, White acknowledged it came down to two all-state players, both of whom played big in a big game.
“Sam has really stepped up this year,” White said. “She has had some injuries and she has really stepped in the last couple of games, but Laura is an excellent player and we wish them a lot of luck.”
— Contact Brian Woodson at