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Boys soccer: Big Reds up to challenge against Redskins

By Nick Brockman

HURRICANE, W.Va. -- No one played to the equal of the Hurricane boys soccer team all year. That is until the regular season finale.

Visiting Parkersburg scored first and shortly thereafter surrendered the equalizer, but maintained the 1-1 tie to the finish. With the tie, the Redskins (18-0-1) enter the postseason with undeterred optimism.

"Undefeated is undefeated even with the tie," Hurricane senior Alex White said. "Parkersburg's a great team and we love playing them every year. They're really competitive and every year - their defense, they don't really have a weak spot."

Redskins Coach Jim Dagostine said he was proud of the effort and said no one gave much thought to the record.

"Parkersburg's very, very good and they're playing really well right now," he said. "It's never an upset when Parkersburg ties your or beats you. Never, ever. We both had some chances and didn't connect."

The Big Reds (13-3-4) entered ready for the arduous task of facing Hurricane on its home field.

Parkersburg's Evan Rhodes scored unassisted in the game's 13th minute to provide a 1-0 advantage for the Big Reds.

Less than a minute later, Hurricane standout Felipe Thompson scored his 38th goal of the season to tie the game 1-1. Trevor Cunningham provided the assist on the goal.

The offense ended there for both teams.

Opportunities presented, but defenses tightened and shots sailed wide or high.

"That's how soccer is," Thompson said. "Soccer, you have to always try to put it on the net, but sometimes you don't have the luck or the situation doesn't take part to go into the net. I just say we play hard, play as a team and go onto the next game."

Shots missed their mark, but the effort didn't, keeper Tim Hayslett said.

"We played well," he said. "We probably should have stepped it up a little, but it's all right. We played our hearts out. That's all we can ask for."

A win may have given greater lift heading into the postseason, but Dagostine said the match with Parkersburg provided great preparation for next week's sectional.

"This is a good game for us against a great opponent," he said. "It's the kind of game you need going into the tournament. No matter what the result was tonight, it's on to next week and hope you're good and lucky at the same time."

Thursday's contest wasn't the lone challenge of the season for Hurricane on its march to unblemished glory. There were many close calls along the path to perfection, including 1-0 victories against Nitro and Winfield, a 3-2 win at South Charleston and hard-earned 2-1 decision against George Washington. Hurricane defeated Winfield 2-0 to win the Mountain State Athletic Conference championship last Saturday.

Each of the tightly contested matches forced the Redskins into a battle-tested crew.

Dagostine said he hopes his team takes the lessons learned from those games, but the undefeated regular season carries no weight in the postseason.

"Next week, like I said, you have to be good and lucky, and hopefully, this team will move on," he said. "We've had a wonderful season. The record speaks for itself. They won the conference championship in a very difficult conference.

"We go to next week and hope we're good and lucky at the same time and move on or lose and go home. That's the way it goes."

Hurricane will begin its hopeful march to the State Tournament when the Redskins begin sectional play Tuesday at Hurricane against the winner of Nitro-St. Albans in a game that will be played Monday.

In other boys action:

Nitro 2, St. Joseph 1 - The Wildcats scored two goals in the first half and made it hold up in earning the home win.

Alec Bailey and Evan Eich scored the goals for Nitro (12-8), both assisted by Geoffrey Bevil. Senior goalkeeper Lee Klocke made eight saves for the Wildcats.

Lakin Brooks scored for St. Joseph (9-10-1).

George Washington 4, Cabell Midland 3 - The Patriots (13-5-2) trailed at halftime, but scored three goals in the second half to earn the road win over the Knights (7-10-1).

Caleb Barnette scored two goals while Noah Miller and Garrett Warner tallied the other goals for GW. Midland falls to 7-10-1.

In girls action:

Poca 1, St. Albans 0 - With the game scoreless, Marissa Perkins tallied the game's only goal midway through the second half to give the Dots the hard-fought home victory

Perkins, a senior, scored the goal off of a penalty kick for Poca (9-9-1). Junior Autumn Williams made 11 saves to earn the shutout in goal for the Dots.

George Washington 2, Nitro 0 - Stephanie Kelly and Kasey Rhodes scored the goals for the Patriots (14-3-1) in the victory over the Wildcats (6-9).

Caroline Barber recorded the shutout for GW.


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