By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
EAST RIVER —
That was the word yelled in unison by the PikeView boys soccer team after posing for a team photo Thursday night in front of the goal at the East River Soccer Complex.
After a one-year absence PikeView is back in the state tournament. The Panthers held off a pesky Pocahontas County club 4-2 Thursday night to win the Class AA-A Region III championship and land a berth in next week’s tournament in Beckley.
PikeView last played at the state level in 2011 and fell to eventual champion Charleston Catholic 6-0 in its first game. Coach Bill Hopkins said this year’s juniors were freshmen on that team and that this squad has a different attitude.
“We’re going up there with a different focus this time,” Hopkins said. “Our focus the entire season has been championship at the state level, not the regional or sectional level and that’s still our goal and our focus. We talk about it every day in practice.”
Seth Ward got the Panthers started toward the regional championship when he netted the game’s first goal in the 11th minute. Three minutes later Brandon Calfee found the back of the net and it appeared that the Panthers were on a roll.
Pocahontas County, however, came to play. Cary Robertson in the 35th minute put the Warriors on the board and brought his team to within a goal of the lead.
PikeView, however, charged back and with less than a minute left in the half, Hunter Klein scored to give the Panthers a 3-1 lead at the intermission.
The second half saw the teams battle furiously as neither team could get the ball across the goal.
Pocahontas County had a chance but a penalty kick from inside the box sailed wide right and PikeView held onto its lead. The Warriors continued to battle and with just over 10 minutes left, Robertson scored on a breakaway to make it 3-2.
The Panthers put it away, however, when two minutes later Isaac Van Blaricom scored to make it 4-2 and that was the final.
Hopkins said the missed penalty kick was a turning point in the game.
“We were up 3-1 at that point and if they put that goal in and it goes to 3-2 they have the momentum with 10, 15 minutes left in the game, it could have been a different outcome,” Hopkins said.
Wood and Klein, in addition to their goals, each had two assists for PikeView. “We’re proud of them, we’re pleased, we’re blessed to have a win here,” Hopkins said. “Pocahontas County brought it to us. Coach McCurdy had them ready to play and his comment after the game was he hoped they made us better tonight. I hope they made us better too.”
Warriors coach Curry McCurdy said, “I have no complaints of the way my guys played. I thought we equaled them in the midfield, probably won as many 50-50 balls. We’re smaller, probably as fast, not quite as physical, but I thought it was a good showing for us. They (PikeView) are a good team, well-coached, great kids and it’s always an honor to be on the field with them.”
PikeView will play in the state semifinals next Friday evening around 6:30 at the YMCA Soccer Complex in Beckley.
— Contact Bob Redd at