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It’s good to be king.
Jefferson Forest’s boys soccer team is finding out just how good, as post-season accolades are bestowed upon the Cavs.
For starters, Bryan Zaring was named the AA Player of the Year for the state of Virginia. Jedd Zaring was named Coach of the Year for AA Virginia, as well.
It’s logical that those honors would be awarded to members of the state championship team.
Still, what are the odds of a father-son combination being so honored?
Coach Zaring, who has led the Cavs for 19 years, is no stranger to success. He’s led his team to 19 straight Seminole District championships. This year, his team earned Zaring his 300th career victory. While hitting that milestone was significant, there is little doubt that win #312 was the one that Zaring holds dearest: For that was the win over Blacksburg in the State final.
Bryan Zaring has been the anchor of the stout Jefferson Forest defense, one that yielded but three goals over the course of its eight-game playoff run.
Over the course of the Cavs’ 24-game run, that defense gave up a total of 10 goals, giving it an average of 0.41 goals per match.
Zaring was a big contributor offensively, as well. His big leg was vital for direct kicks, and he became something of a penalty kick specialist. For the year, he logged nine goals, while adding five assists: Quite impressive numbers for a back-liner.
“It’s been a great experience to win the whole thing with Bryan alongside me,” said Coach Zaring.
Additionally, midfielder Devin Jones was named to the Second Team All-State squad. Goalkeeper Jeremy Lee was an Honorable Mention.
Jones, too, showed an unselfish side, moving from a striker role to a defensive midfield position. While his offensive stats were therefore less gaudy, there is little doubt that, absent the move, the senior would not be getting fitted for a State championship ring. That’s because Jones’s aggressive style and his play in the air were obvious difference-makers for the Cavs.
When asked about making the move, Jones said, “It’s not a sacrifice. It’s what’s best for the team.”
Lee was remarkable between the pipes. During the Seminole slate, he was rarely challenged. In the post-season, though, he caught fire. His remarkable first-half play kept Jeff Forest in the hunt during its 1-0 State semifinal win over Tabb.
Against Blacksburg, he turned in a similarly inspired performance.
As if being state champ isn’t enough, ESPN Rise, the website of the sports media giant, has deemed the Cavs to be the fourth best team in the nation.
ESPN Rise’s most recent rankings shows St. Pius (Atlanta), Creighton Prep (Omaha, Neb.) and Hardin Valley (Knoxville) to be the top three teams in the country.
Jefferson Forest and Walton (Marietta, Ga) round out the top five.
The logic in placing JF so high is that the Cavs beat Blacksburg, a team which beat eventual AAA champion North Stafford earlier in the season. Hence, Jeff Forest is ESPN’s pick as the top team in the state.
Virginia being a hotbed of soccer, it makes sense to have its top team sitting so high in the national rankings.