By DAN STILLWELL
for the Daily Telegraph
Before the first practice of the season, PikeView boys soccer coach Bill Hopkins gave his team T-shirts that said, “Our goal is the state championship game. Nov. 9, 2013. Get your tickets now.”
“By the middle of the season, they started believing,” Hopkins said.
Today, it’s not just a goal. It’s a fact.
The Panthers defeated Robert C. Byrd 2-0 Friday to move into today’s Class AA-A final against East Fairmont.
Seth Wood scored a goal in the 23rd minute, then added to his total on a rebound in the 67th minute.
The PikeView defense bent, but did not break, holding the Eagles to three shots on goal. Keeper Austin Cordell saved all three.
“There was a lot of pride out there today,” Hopkins said. “I’m proud of the guys.”
Wood’s first goal, off a Brandon Calfee pass, was a lob from 20 feet out over RCB keeper Justin Welling.
“I was trying get it in there and set the tone,” Wood said. “If the opportunity is there to take a good shot, I’ll take it.”
The second goal came after Alex Van Blaricom ripped a shot that bounced out of Welling’s hands.
Wood raced in and pounded it into the back of the net.
“I really wanted a goal tonight, but Seth always has my back,” Van Blaricom said.
While Wood found paydirt on two of three shots on goal, RCB’s Jeremy Bell couldn’t buy a goal.
One shot sailed the ball high over the net. His next try hit the crossbar and bounced out. A third banged off a post.
“It just didn’t seem like it was my night,” Bell said.
Coach T.J. Hill said his team had opportunities, just couldn’t score.
“It seemed we were a step late or an inch high,” he said. “As the game went on you start thinking, ‘How unlucky can you be in one night?’”
Of course, the PikeView defense had something to say about it.
“We had Payden Cutlip aware of Bell, and we marked Chaz Rodeheaver with Vaughn Campbell,” Hopkins said. “Bell is quick and relentless, and Rodeheaver is a very skilled player.
“When Bell hit the post after hitting the crossbar, I turned to (assistant coach) Corbett Calfee and said, ‘It’s our game.’”
The Panthers will take on East Fairmont, a 1-0 winner over four-time defending champion Charleston Catholic in the other semifinal, 30 minutes following the conclusion of the AA-A girls title match with Sissonville and Bridgeport. That game starts at 11 a.m. at Carter Family Foundation Stadium.
PikeView girls' hopes dashed by overtime goal
By CAM HUFFMAN
for the Daily Telegraph
BECKLEY — PikeView head coach Sam Hill admitted his team was probably not the most talented on the field in Friday’s AA-A girls state soccer semifinal, but for 85 minutes, its heart was enough.
Defending champion Bridgeport (16-3-3) scored in the sixth minute of overtime to win 2-1 and clinch a spot in today’s championship game at 10:30 a.m. against Sissonville, ending the season for the Panthers (15-6-1) in heartbreaking fashion.
“I’m awfully proud of my team,” said Hill. “What drives our success is heart and guts.
“The girls fought for 80-plus minutes and put themselves in a position to get a result against a team that’s awfully good. I hope the folks that watched the game understand the level of young ladies that play at PikeView.”
On the other side, the Indians were celebrating what seemed to be an unlikely return to the pinnacle. Nine players were lost from last year’s team, which defeated Fairmont Senior 3-2 to win the title, but head coach John Reese’s team continually found ways to win.
Friday’s triumph ended in dramatic fashion when freshman Reagan Lesher crossed the ball just before going out of bounds, and Alexis Lindsay controlled the pass and readied for a game winner.
Her shot was initially stopped by PikeView keeper Kristen Brinkley, but when Brinkley couldn’t bring it in, Lindsay, a senior, was ready for the tap-in.
“She made a great move to beat the defender, beat the keeper to the goal and put it in,” said Reese of the winning goal. “Alexis works so hard, and she fought hard and put it in.”
“When I saw it hit the (keeper’s) hands, I thought, ‘Oh man, I had my opportunity,’ said Lindsay. “But I saw it drop off her hands and I said, ‘Here we go.’ I thought I was going to knock it way over, because that’s usually what I do, but I got really excited when I saw it in the back of the net.”
PikeView actually took the lead first getting a goal in the 32nd minute from an unlikely source.
Normally a defender, junior Crysta Meekins was moved up to a center-midfield spot in an effort to keep Bridgeport from controlling the midfield. And when Meekins saw a ball come free, she went on the attack.
“I was just standing up there, and I saw the ball loose,” said Meekins, of one of just two PikeView shots on goal in the first 40 minutes. “I said, ‘I might as well go after it, because you never know what’s going to happen.’ When I did, it went in. It was amazing.”
The lead was short-lived, however, as two minutes later Bridgeport’s Mikayla Oliverio found the back of the net to tie the game.
“When you score, that’s probably when you’re the most vulnerable,” said Hill. “The emotion of scoring can take your focus away. If we could have made it to halftime, perhaps, with a 1-0 lead, the result might have been different.”
The first-half goals were the only scores the rest of the way until the overtime period, when the Lady Indians found a way to win another tight game.
“Our motto is nothing’s easy,” said Reese. “We’ve given up the first goal a lot of times. As strong as our defense is, sometimes it takes something to get our girls going. Once we’re down a goal, the fighting instinct comes on.”
The championship game will be a rematch of a Sept. 14 meeting in Sissonville that ended in a 2-2 tie.
“It’s going to be a good game,” said Reese. “They’ve got a good team, but we’ll be ready for them. The way our season has gone, it’s probably going to be another close game. We don’t get anything easy.”
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