Boys State Soccer Tournament: Irish one win from fourth straight title
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- At 6 feet, 3 inches, Charleston Catholic senior forward Sam Revercomb looks like a basketball player on the soccer field.
It is appropriate considering Revercomb has an offensive mindset that matches a sweet-shooting guard with long-range accuracy or prolific-scoring ability.
No matter how many shots he misses, Revercomb will keep shooting because he knows one will find its mark sooner or later.
Such was the case Tuesday, when Charleston Catholic advanced to the Class AA-A state final with a 2-1 Election Day victory versus Bridgeport on a chilly morning at Trace Fork's Friends of Coal Fields in South Charleston.
Revercomb barely missed short-range shots at the 31:25, 30:20 and 10:10 marks of the first half. However, his fourth attempt was on point.
"We are always frustrated because it always takes a while for us to get that first goal," said Revercomb, who played basketball in middle school but stopped to focus on soccer. "You just can't get down on yourself (when you miss shots). I just try to stay levelheaded. I try not to get too up or too down."
Taking a pass from senior midfielder Domenic Cipollone off a free kick, Revercomb received the ball in the top left corner of the box and kicked it into the bottom right corner of the net, just out of the reach of diving Bridgeport senior goalkeeper Jonah James, to give Charleston Catholic a 1-0 lead with 8:38 remaining before halftime.
"I miss hit it, but it still went in," said Revercomb, whose height and blond Mohawk made him look like the largest player on the field, although Bridgeport senior defender Cody Hutcheson had 1 inch and 15 pounds on him. "(Cipollone) put it right where I wanted to get it."
Bridgeport senior defender Trevor Moon said marking Revercomb is "difficult."
"He is a very talented player," Moon said of Revercomb, who scored three goals in Charleston Catholic's season-opening 5-1 victory versus Bridgeport on Aug. 18. "We did what we needed to do and did the best we could. I felt we did a great job of marking him. We limited his chances."
Bridgeport Coach Danny Hamrick said shutting out Revercomb is not plausible or possible.
"He is going to beat you," Hamrick said of Revercomb, who has scored 35 goals in 24 games this season. "He is that good. What you have to do is limit how many times he beats you. That was our game plan coming in, and it worked. We just had one less goal than them."
Revercomb missed a header at the 28:20 mark of the second half, but senior defender Tanner Whipkey rebounded the ball and blasted it past James for what proved to be the game-winning goal.
"We had plenty of opportunities," said Charleston Catholic Coach Sam Fox, whose team took 23 shots - 11 more than Bridgeport - and had 13 shots on goal - nine more than Bridgeport. "I just wish we had finished a few more than we had. We talked about that at halftime. Fortunately, we were able to sneak another in after the half."
Entering the finale with a 54-game unbeaten streak, Charleston Catholic (22-0-2) will face Fairmont Senior for the state championship today at 10 a.m.
"We are in a position where we hoped we would be at the beginning of the season," Fox said.
The Fighting Irish beat the Polar Bears 3-1 in the regular season.
Fairmont Senior (15-5-4) advanced to the state title game with a 5-1 victory against Bluefield (10-4-2) in the second semifinal matchup Tuesday. Five players scored a goal for the Polar Bears.
The Fighting Irish will try to become the first boys soccer team in state history to win four consecutive state titles. Charleston Catholic (2009-11) is only the second boys team to win three straight championships; the other is Buckhannon-Upshur (1993-95).
"I have told them all year that we are a better team than we have been playing," Fox said.
"We played well today, but I have seen these boys play since they were 4 and 5 years old. I know they can play better than this. There is always room for improvement."
Although their season started and ended with a loss to the Fighting Irish, Hamrick said the Indians have no reason to hang their heads.
"I'm very proud," Hamrick said. "We are definitely a different team than we were at the beginning of the year. It's because of the hard work these kids have put in."
The Indians (16-5-2) became the first boys soccer team from Harrison County to make it to the state tournament.
"It was a new thing for the whole team," Hamrick said. "We did have some nerves."
Bridgeport's goal - scored by senior defender Logan Lang at the 3:56 mark of the second half - was the first postseason score Charleston Catholic has allowed in three years.
"Bridgeport is a good team," Fox said.
"They are vastly improved. (Hamrick) did a great job to get them to come together. They played a heck of a lot better (today) than they did in August."