Prep soccer: Redskins reach the summit with win over Parkersburg
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - When the final seconds ticked off the clock to give the Hurricane boys soccer team a 2-0 victory over Parkersburg for the Class AAA state championship, all but Coach Jim Dagostine on the Redskins sideline rushed the field in joy.
The veteran coach sat on the bench with his head buried in his hands.
His seven-year mission to make Hurricane one of the elite programs in the West Virginia had finally been completed.
"You've got to tip your hat where it's due," Parkersburg Coach Don Fosselman said. "My hat's off to Jim Dagostine and his team."
The Big Reds have six titles to their credit and have finished as runner-up three times, putting that program where Dagostine wanted the Redskins to be when he took over in 2006.
"A lot of people never thought they would see this at Hurricane High," Dagostine said. "We've had great support from the parents, the school, the community."
Then the 65-year-old coaching veteran had to pause to choke back yet more tears.
"This is for all of them and it's also for all those boys who worked so hard to get this program where it is, who built the foundation," Dagostine said. "This means so much to these boys and the boys that came before them."
This was the fourth State Tournament appearance for Hurricane since 2007. It was also the program's third undefeated regular season.
There was also that memorable run of 20 consecutive shutouts in 2009 and an overall record of 127-20-13 under Dagostine to validate the Redskins stature in West Virginia high school soccer.
All which had prompted him to say in the past that, "a team does not need a state championship to be a great team."
On Wednesday, he discovered that maybe he was wrong.
"I've been saying for 44 years that winning this wasn't important," Dagostine said. "But it means a lot."
That seniors Evan Miles and Alex White scored the goals only for the Redskins made the victory that much sweeter.
Both had been part of the squads that were agonizingly close to winning the crown the past two seasons.
On this day - as had been the case all season - the undefeated Redskins (23-0-1) were not to be denied.
"We played with our minds and our hearts," midfielder Matt Morgan said. "There was no way we were losing this game."
The Big Reds (17-4-4) marked up Hurricane leading scorer Felipe Thompson with their best defender and then collapsed on him with up to four other players whenever he touched the ball.
This season's Redskins had scorers to spare.
"They had a lot of good players," Parkersburg goalkeeper Reid Strobl said. "Too many to stop today."
Miles broke through a tight first half on a close-range goal off a scramble in front of the net with 3:21 to go before halftime.
White added an insurance score with 2:02 to play in the second and the feelings of joy and relief began to pour out.
"We had guys on this team that have been here for four years," said Morgan, an exchange student from Brazil. "They came here today excited and ready to play."
Afterward Dagostine tried his best to make sure his players received all of the attention.
Given a chance to speak for themselves they returned the favor.
"He screams a lot but I love him," Morgan said.
"We wouldn't be here without him," White said. "I've never had a coach push a team so hard."
What all of that work did was to build a very special team.
"I've played soccer my whole life but this group is different," Morgan said. "I love this school and I love this team."
Jim Dagostine's mission is indeed complete.
Contact sportswriter J.T. Simms at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1735.