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All those that paid the five dollar admission fee to the boys? and girls? Seminole District soccer tournament championship doubleheader got their money?s worth, and then some.
Both matches went into overtime, with host Forest coming out on top in each. The tournament trophies that the Cavs and Lady Cavs earned became matched sets with the regular season championship hardware they were also awarded.
Gals put on a show
There is no other way to describe the soccer spectacle put on by Jefferson Forest and Staunton River in their Seminole tournament title bout last Friday night.
The homestanding Lady Cavs won the match in the penalty kick portion of the program after the teams had stayed tied, 1-1, throughout overtime and sudden-death play.
With Staunton River having made 3 of its 5 opportunities, and Forest going 3-for-4, Brittany Gallagher, the last shooter, calmly pegged her chance, giving Forest the final edge in PKs, 4-3.
Gallagher, Forest?s leading scorer, nailed the shot to her left, just past Staunton River keeper Moira Guzi. As the ball creased the back of the net, Gallagher was quickly engulfed by a sea of joyous teammates, grateful for her acumen. Guzi was quickly engulfed by a sea of supportive teammates, grateful for her effort.
The stage for the dramatic ending was set on the field of play. The Lady Cavs appeared to be headed for an easy win and their fourth consecutive tourney title. Eight minutes into the match, Gallagher, crossing right to left across the box, took a beautiful pass from Taylor Duff and headed it past Guzi. Duff?s toughness in fighting off the physical Eagle defenders made the play possible.
However, that was all the Staunton River defense would yield. Guzi, just a freshman, played well beyond her years, showing great anticipation in response to the nuances of the sophisticated Lady Cav attack.
Two and a half minutes into the second half, Ashley ?Shrimp? Cassidy drove home the equalizer. Dribbling from the midfield, Cassidy locked horns with Forest?s Marlee Flynt, the two heartily mixing it up. Somehow, Cassidy was able to get a solid foot on the ball from the 22, popping the ball high, dropping it behind Forest keeper Dorothy Nugent.
The rest of the way, it was the kind of game that makes fans out of those that don?t love the sport already: Hard played, but clean. Both teams had chances, with the Lady Cavs getting a few better looks.
?The girls know they played a great game,? said Eagle Head Coach Kenneth Young. ?They hate to lose, but they have their heads up.?
It was a particularly tough loss for Staunton River, which also fell to the Lady Cavs in last year?s tournament final. The chance at victory in this year?s game represented the best chance for an Eagle team to bring home a first-place trophy, in any sport, in several years.
Physical one for the lads
The Cavs escaped a scare from Amherst, finally taking down the Lancers in overtime, 2-1.
The first half was scoreless but was played in furious fashion by both teams. The Lancers showed a more physical style of play, while Forest demonstrated its speed game. The first ten minutes seemed to be played exclusively in front of Cav keeper Scott Zaring. Forest turned things around for the remainder of the half, but seemingly every shot sailed high and through the football goal posts that stand behind the soccer goal.
In the eighth minute after the intermission, Matt Payne scored to put the Lancers ahead, only to see Ian Case even the score ten minutes later. Case?s tally came courtesy of a feed from David Rochow.
That 1-1 tie would stand the rest of regulation in spite of Forest?s 20 shots for the game (compared with Amherst?s 6).
Wanting to avoid the drama that had taken place in the girls? game, Jordan Smith said, ?Enough is enough.? Two minutes into the first overtime period, Smith took a clearing effort from the Lancer defense and drilled a humdinger from 35 yards out to secure the Cavs? third straight tournament title. The Cavs earlier had won their 16th consecutive regular season crown.
The win was tainted, however, by the loss of senior Nathan Seeberger. The midfielder suffered a lacerated spleen as a result of a collision with an Amherst player. The incident resulted in Seeberger winding up in the surgical intensive care unit of Lynchburg General Hospital.
The bet here is that the Cavs would gladly exchange their trophy to have the hard-charging Seeberger back for their playoff run.
The Lady Cavs played Tuesday night against R.E. Lee. Staunton River, having won Monday night, 2-0, over Stuart?s Draft, played Tuesday night at Lord Botetourt.
The girls? semifinals/finals will be hosted by Turner Ashby.
The Forest boys hosted Harrisonburg; on Tuesday night. Semifinals/Finals will be hosted by William Byrd.