By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Who knew Spain would play a role in Bluefield’s first-ever trip to the state soccer tournament?
Jose Tarin, an exchange student from Spain, scored with 2:38 left in the fourth overtime to lead the Bluefield Beavers to a pulsating 3-2 Region 3 championship-game win over Pocahontas County on a lovely fall Tuesday evening on the turf soccer/football field at Nicholas County High School’s Memorial Stadium.
Bluefield (15-5-2) has had a flair for the dramatic in the postseason, defeating PikeView 1-0 to win the Section 3 title last Thursday on a penalty kick by Justin Phillips with three seconds left on the clock.
The Beavers, who defeated the Warriors (12-6-2) three times this season, will play either Fairmont Senior or Weir in the Class AA/A semifinals on Nov. 2 in Beckley.
J.T. Roberts and Phillips also scored for Bluefield, which never trailed, but were tied twice at 1-1 and 2-2. Tyler Davis scored both goals for the Warriors.
“Wow,” said Bluefield assistant coach Tim Roberts, as the Beavers survived 107 minutes and 22 seconds to continue their season and improve to 8-0-2 in their last 10 games.
“It all came down to heart,” Roberts said. “I told them, ‘Fellas, whoever has more heart is going to win’ and it is Beavers and heart. We have been saying it all season. It was Beavers and heart.”
Bluefield earned its first trip to a state tournament in soccer with head coach Robb Williams in Alabama on business. Roberts assumed his role against the Warriors, but was glad it did not come to a decision by him.
“I was setting up a PK (penalty kick) order,” Roberts said. “PKs were next, but fortunately somebody made a play and coaching didn’t get involved.”
That play was made by Tarin, a junior at Bluefield, who has played soccer all his life in Spain. He was able to get loose with the ball on the Pocahontas County side of the field, got past defender Stephen Simmons and then kicked the ball that deflected off the hands of goalkeeper Alex Kennison and into the net to give the Beavers the win.
The clubs were tied at 1-1 at the break, 2-2 just 6:18 into the second half and no one scored through the rest of the second half, two 10-minute overtime periods and one 5-minute extra frame.
“Great players make great plays, it sure wasn’t coaching,” Roberts said. “We missed Robb tonight, the guys wanted to win for him. It was a great play by a great player.
“It is a shame anybody had to lose because their great players made great plays all night.”
Phillips got the Beavers on the board in a hurry, taking a pass from Roberts and then using nifty footwork to use his left foot to push the ball past Kennison for the 1-0 lead just 2:53 into the game.
It took Pocahontas County a while, but the Warriors finally tied it at 1-1 with 11:26 left in the half when Davis used his head to deflect a corner kick pass from Phillip Green into the back of the net.
That score would stand heading into halftime.
It was more of the same after the break, with the teams exchanging early goals. Roberts scored just 1:10 into the half during a scrum in front of the Pocahontas County net after a corner kick by Justin Freund. That lead didn’t last long, with Davis getting loose in front of the Bluefield goal, and then kicking the ball past a fallen Eldridge to knot the sore at 2-2 with 33:42 to play.
No one would score again for the next 61:04, with both teams having chances, but Eldridge and Kennison were stingy, not allowing balls to get past them.
Neither team was willing to let up on a chilly night, but fatigue was beginning to set in as evidenced by what Roberts heard from his team prior to the final overtime.
“How many minutes is that, 107 minutes or something and their legs were jello,” Roberts said. “One of the team said ‘Guys, my legs are jello’ so I don’t know how much we had left.”
It was Tarin who made the game’s biggest play on offense, using his nibble footwork and ballhandling skills with his feet for the deciding goal, helping the Beavers avoid the possibility of penalty kicks.
“We were getting pretty tired, it wasn’t for me, it was for my partners,” Tarin said. “I am very happy to make that goal.”
Bluefield will play again next Friday in Beckley with a berth in the Class AA/A state championship game on the line. Tarin sees no reason why the Beavers can’t keep it going.
“I don’t know, that game is going to be very difficult,” Tarin said, “but if we play like we did with PikeView and here, we can win.”
— Contact Brian Woodson at