By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Like most prep athletes, Charlotte Webster and her PikeView High School soccer teammates had set a preseason goal of winning a state championship.
With the Panthers in the final four of Class AA-A soccer for the third time in four years, the seasoned senior believes that it continues to be a very achievable goal.
“Myself and my whole team had the goal of making it to the state tournament — and winning the championship is our team goal,” Webster said before a practice late last week. “None of us thought that was unreasonable. We all knew that we could reach that goal.”
“We’re a really strong team, I think stronger than we’ve ever been. We have a lot of quality players out there, and a lot of them are very young, but they’ve stepped up and shown they have what it takes.”
“I really think that we can all pull together and finally get it done this year.”
It didn’t seem that way just before this season began. Injuries mounted, sidelining starters and reserves, including a season-ending knee injury suffered by Hope Nester, one of last year’s stars as a sophomore.
Webster said, “Prior to the season, when we found out that Hope got hurt, it was really just — I mean, it hurt us. We were all upset, we were all worried, coming into the season.
“But I think, not having Hope, it was obviously a disappointment, but we stepped up and we showed that we were a team, so we can overcome anything, whatever obstacles have been thrown at us.
“We’ve had a lot of injuries this year, and we’ve overcome all of it, and I think that shows what a strong team we are.”
Webster has had her own share of injuries during high school, and wears braces on her knees while in action as a result.
She has led the Panthers in assists this year, with 24, and she has scored 20 goals.
The holes in PikeView’s lineup this season were taken by younger players, which Webster said turned into a positive development.
“It’s really a great experience, getting to know all of them — the freshmen, the sophomores, the juniors, getting to play with them. They’re so easy to play with, and they all work so hard,” she said.
Asked what role she took with them as a senior, she said, “It hasn’t really even been a challenge, trying to get them to do what they need to do. They step out on the field and they know that to get the result that they’re going to have to play their hardest, and that’s what they do, every game.”
Webster was prepared to move to any position to help her team, but she said, “My main position is midfielder, either attacking or defensive. And that’s a very important role, because as midfielder you have to step up as a leader, and really control the middle of the field.
“You’re the path between the defense and the offense. You have to win all the balls in the middle. So I’ve really had to step for my team, and work very hard in the middle to keep possession. Having my team around me has made that job so easy, having such quality players around me.”
Her most memorable moment of the 2012 season — so far — was another example of teamwork.
“The regional championship (against Pocahontas County) really sticks out for me,” she said. “We played them in the normal season and only beat them 1-0, so we knew it was going to be a hard game.”
“And the freshmen hadn’t had a chance to play in a game with that much pressure. It stuck out to me because of how much the underclassmen stepped up. Everyone on the team showed so much heart and showed that they wanted to win. It inspired me to play harder.”
Webster started playing soccer at the age of 4 in a children’s league at East River Soccer Complex. Her current coaches at PikeView, Sam and Angie Hill, coached her as a little girl.
“They basically shaped my soccer career, and (those of) a lot of other girls,” Webster said. “I can’t even explain how much I appreciate them, and how much they’ve done, for not only me, but for PikeView soccer, now and for the years to come.”
The Hills’ guiding force has “meant everything” to the PikeView program, Webster said. “They established the first girls’ and boys’ soccer team. Before they were here, it was still co-ed.”
The Panthers (16-4-2) will face the next-to-last step in their quest for a championship trophy on Tuesday at approximately 6 p.m. in the state semifinals at Trace Fork Soccer Fields in Charleston. Their opponent is Fairmont Senior High School (14-8-1).
As to the fortunes of PikeView soccer after her senior season is over, Webster said, “I think that we have been a very strong program, and I do believe in the years to come that PikeView will continue to be a strong program.
“We’re someone that everyone is going to have to keep their eye on, someone that’s always going to be a threat.”
— Contact Tom Bone at email@example.com.
A preview of the PikeView-Fairmont Senior state semifinal soccer match will run in the Tuesday edition of the Daily Telegraph.