Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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October 19, 2012

Sectional champions

Beavers get last second goal for win

EAST RIVER — Robb Williams was preparing for overtime. Justin Phillips had other ideas.

Eleven Bluefield senior boys had never beaten PikeView in soccer, going all the way back to middle school. Better late than never.

Phillips nailed a penalty kick with six seconds left in the game and Bluefield captured its first Region 3, Section 2 championship with a hard-fought 1-0 win over the Panthers on a cold, wet Thursday night at East River Soccer Complex.

Bluefield (14-5-2) will play in the regional finals possibly against Pocahontas County on Tuesday at Nicholas County High School, with the winner advancing to the Class AA/A state tournament in Beckley on Nov. 2-3.

“It is so great,” Phillips said. “I am so proud of my team, it is all teamwork.”

These clubs had played twice during the season, with PikeView winning 2-0 and the other finishing in a 0-0 tie. There was little doubt this would be a hard-fought contest to the very end, and it certainly was.

“It feels go great, it has been frustrating,” said Phillips, of losing so often to PikeView. “We were ready, we were pumped and ready.”

It showed. Both teams played hard in wet, cold conditions, with PikeView controlling the ball in the opening half, but the Panthers never could get the ball past Bluefield goalkeeper Brandon Eldridge, who had a sliding save with just seconds left before the buzzer.  

“Brandon did a really good job, in the first half we just weren’t in sync and (PikeView) got a couple of these young men back so he was at full strength and they played like they were at full strength,” Williams said. “I thought they outplayed us in the first half.

“I made a couple of adjustments and then in the second half our players did exactly what I asked them to do and they seemed to be a little more aggressive and want the ball a little bit more in the second half.”

 Bluefield was the aggressor in the second half, with several shots on goal from Jose Tarin, a foreign exchange student from Spain, but PikeView goalkeeper Austin Cordell continued to negate those opportunities.

“Their goalie did a tremendous job all night, you can’t take anything away from them,” Williams said. “They are a really good team and he has got a great program there and we are happy to get a win against a really good team. It has been a long time for these young men and I am just proud of their effort.”

PikeView also had chances down the stretch, but the game appeared destined for overtime.

“A really good effort, they are obviously a very solid team and we are very happy to get out of that game, you hate for any team to lose a game like that,” Williams said. “That is a heartbreaking loss with six seconds, I hate it.

“I was actually over here trying to figure out the overtime and who I was going to use for penalty kicks if it went that far, it was that close of a game.”

As the clock worked its way down to the final seconds, Bluefield hustled the ball downfield, with Ryan Stamper taking the ball into the box where he was hit from both sides and knocked hard to the ground.

“A foul was called, the shot was taken there,” PikeView coach Sam Hill said. “I told my guys at the end of the day unfortunately for PikeView the team that wanted to win worst got the results and you make your luck sometimes by simply playing hard and I give tons of credit to Bluefield.

“They were organized with what they wanted to do on the field, they committed to what they wanted to do on the field and they played very, very hard and that is why they got the results.”

A penalty shot was called for with less than 30 seconds on the clock, and  Phillips was the choice to take what turned out to be one of the biggest shots in program history.

“I don’t know,” said Phillips, when asked about taking the shot. “I have just always been the kicker, I can usually put it in the back of the net.”

Williams added, “Justin has taken a lot of our penalty kicks through the year and we felt confident with him or Jose either one. To be honest with you I just let them work it out on the field.”

Phillips let the clock run down and then kicked the ball past four PikeView defenders toward the right side of the goal on the wet grass.

“That is a tough way to lose for any team, they are a heck of a team,” Williams said. “It was a good shot in the corner, but it wasn’t his hardest shot. I think the cold, the speed, I think it both helped us out on that shot.”

Cordell dived for the ball, but it seemed to squirt past him and into the back of the net.

“I was just waiting for the last couple of seconds to shoot so we could get the goal,” Phillips said. “I thought they will going to stop it, but I got it around them. It was great.”

“It is hard to see (in there),” added Hill. “I don’t put anyone at fault on that, the shot was well taken, both teams had their opportunities and Bluefield put theirs in the back of the net.”

Finally, after so many years of frustration, the Beavers could celebrate a win over PikeView, and at the best possible time.

“These seniors have never beat them all the way through school, I am just so proud of their hard work and again to beat a quality team,” Williams said. “They are very good team and they played very good and it was a hard fought game and at the end they had a kick right outside our box and 30 seconds later we had one so it went both ways.

“A good officiated game, I was obviously pleased with the final result.”

PikeView finished 11-7-2 and will lose just two seniors to graduation.

“They will be back,” Williams said. “PikeView has got a younger team than we do and they are going to be tough again next year like always.”

Bluefield will travel for regional play on Tuesday having not lost just one game in its last 12 decisions, posting a 10-1-1 mark in those games.

“We have got a really good team, they have worked hard, they have done everything that I have asked them and Coach (Tim) Roberts has asked of them all year and they don’t run their mouths,” Williams said. “They really act like gentlemen and it was good to see for them.

“It was a special night for these seniors especially.”

—Contact Brian Woodson


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