Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

July 15, 2014

Game of seconds

King’s Warriors still have playoff hopes

EAST RIVER — Baseball, some say, is a game of inches. Soccer, on Tuesday night, was a game of seconds.

With about 90 of those seconds remaining, late in stoppage time, Jorge McKenna of the Southern West Virginia King’s Warriors drove home a ball that had trickled away from the Carolina Dynamo goalkeeper to create a 2-2 final score that kept the Warriors’ playoff hopes alive — barely.

King’s Warriors coach Scott Reitnour said the final goal came from “what we call ‘Framing, Following and Finishing,’ (which means) anytime a shot is taken, you want to turn and follow the ball and see if they can get an ugly goal.

“And that was an ugly goal, but it was a fantastic goal, and we’ll take it.”

McKenna said, “Before this summer, I was a player that wasn’t used to do that ‘following and framing’ stuff. It’s quite funny. ... It came naturally, to hit it and follow it. I think it came from all the training that we did all summer.”

The game at East River Soccer Complex was a scoreless tie at halftime, with both teams playing close to the vest. A loss by either would knock them out of the playoffs. A tie would close the door on Carolina, as well.

Carolina got off eight shots in the first half, but none found the net. King’s Warriors goalkeeper Jonathan “Boo” Davis made four of his five saves prior to halftime.

Reitnour said, “To be honest, I was a bit shocked with the scoreless tie, and how tight and conservative the match was in the first half. I thought we would be a bit more open, because both teams needed results.”

Mamadee Nypong netted both Carolina goals on quick one-touch boots. Thirteen minutes elapsed after his first one before Southern West Virginia equalized when Jeremy Payne succeeded on a one-on-one shot against goalkeeper Alex McCauley in the 82nd minute.

Harry Sherwood, who had key roles all over the pitch in the second half, provided the assist.

Four minutes later, Nyepon put Carolina ahead again, 2-1.

Reitnour said that at that point, “We push Harry up top again, and I think he and Morgan (Copeland) and Jorge and Jeremy were just kind of wreaking havoc.”

As the scoreboard hit 90 minutes, the announcement came that four minutes would remain in accumulated stoppage time, gleaned from a second half that was dotted with several injuries on the field.

Almost immediately, Payne got off a header, from just two yards away, that bounced off the crossbar and out of bounds.

Payne tried another goal as time was running out, from about 25 yards out. McCauley, on his stomach, stopped the shot with his forearms, but could not wrap the ball up. As it bounced to his right, parallel to the goal line, McKenna caught up to it and found the net.

“It meant a lot, because we’ve been working hard all season,” McKenna said. “That last goal lifted our hopes to still go to the playoffs. That’s quite good. But leaving that aside, we pretty much left everything on the field and we did our best effort. And that’s the most important.”

Sherwood headed away Carolina’s last shot at the goal in the waning seconds.

Reitnour said that in the first half, “The Dynamo outplayed us. As frustrating as that was, I am proud of the second-half effort that the guys put in. To pull back two goals after being down 1-nil and 2-1, is a testimony to their hard work and perseverance and undying attitude.”

“We wanted the result. We were going for three points (for a win), at home,” the Warriors coach said. Southern West Virginia (6-4-3) is still unbeaten at East River, with a 4-0-2 record now.

Sherwood said after his team fell behind 1-0, “Our coaching staff just decided we needed to go for it, and, to our guys’ credit, we scored two goals late ... . We just never give up. We never give up. We played with heart in the second half, and we were fortunate enough to get a tie, which keeps our playoff dream alive.”

Dynamo (6-5-2) coach Steve Diamond said it was a “great game. You had two really good teams going at it, both trying to get a result, playoffs on the line for both teams. You can tell by the quality of the game.”

He said that Nyepon, who now has five goals and one assist for Carolina, is “a fantastic kid. ... He puts himself in really good situations, and he scores in bunches.”

That was a challenge for Southern West Virginia’s Davis, who got the start because goalkeeper Alex Guyer had pulled a quad muscle in last week’s win over River City.

Reitnour said, “I thought Boo was superb all the way through. I don’t think either of the goals against were on him. We’re proud of the progress and the effort that he’s put into the season. He’s stayed ready.”

“We knew coming into the season that we had three goalkeepers that are capable of playing, and playing well, at the PDL level. The depth at that position has been massive for us.”

McCauley made three saves for Carolina, increasing his season total to 16.

Both goalkeepers are teammates at North Carolina State University.

Davis said, “He’s a year older than me. He’s one of my best friends, without a doubt. At school we compete with each other for the same spot, but at the end of the day, we know that whoever gets the spot, it’s rightfully earned, and we still love each other.”

The regular season concludes for the King’s Warriors on Saturday with a 7 p.m. match at East River against the Charleston-based West Virginia Chaos (7-3-3).

A win by Southern West Virginia would throw the PDL’s South Atlantic Division playoff spot into a tiebreaker. The King’s Warriors likely would have to win by four goals on Saturday to break that tie.

A fireworks show, equal to that put on at Bluefield City Park after a Blue Jays’ game each July, is scheduled for after the match to wrap up the Warriors’ “fan appreciation week.”

Also at Saturday’s game, free King’s Warriors bumper stickers and “rally towels” will be given out, sponsored by the West Virginia Coalfields Highway Safety Program, and free soccer DVDs, “Under Pressure,” will be given away. That promotion is sponsored by Forest Hill Family Practice.

— Contact Tom Bone at;

Twitter @BDTBone

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