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After watching their female counterparts lose on a last-minute goal, the Jefferson Forest Cavs got to experience an even more painful ending. The lads fell to Jamestown on an Eagle goal with less than 20 seconds remaining on the field clock.
Even though the match was held in Radford, Jefferson Forest proved to be most gracious hosts at the State semifinals.
The Cavs allowed Jamestown to live in their end of the field for nearly the entire second half.
Like that brother-in-law who comes for a weekend and winds up taking over your guest room for the summer, the Jamestowners couldn't be extricated.
Like that brother-in-law, they left their hosts frustrated and broken. The damage came in the form of a 3-2 come-from-behind win that:
-Denied the Cavs a shot at repeating as State champs.
-Ended JF's 45-game unbeaten streak.
-Pushed Jamestown into the finals against upstart Tuscarora, where Jamestown prevailed, 4-3.
-Left JF's 17 seniors with a sour ending to a superb collective high school career.
In the first half, it seemed that the Cavs were destined to make the finals. They were clicking on all cylinders, building an early 2-0 lead, which they carried into the halftime.
That lead came courtesy of a couple of primo goals. The first tally came when senior Ben Jackson struck. The Virginia Tech-bound Jackson pounced on a deflection of a Carlos Muñoz direct kick, driving the ball into the lower left corner of the net.
That score came a dozen minutes into the match.
Twelve minutes later, JF doubled its lead. Goalkeeper Jeremy Lee's clearing kick sailed 70 yards on a dead line with the Jamestown goal. After bouncing a couple of times, the ball was headed home by senior Tyler Bullock.
As Lee and Bullock are both playing for Liberty University next year, perhaps they'll get a chance to repeat that play at the college level.
Regardless, JF sat on a 2-0 lead, with all the momentum in its favor.
It seemed that nothing could go wrong for the Cavs. Three minutes after the Lee-Bullock goal, Jamestown's Patrick Kelly broke free on Lee's left. Kelly blitzed a ball into the inside top of the netting for what seemed to be the Eagles' first tally.
That goal, however, was waved for a Jamestown infraction, though the exact nature of said transgression was never really made clear.
What was clear was that the game seemed to belong to the Cavs.
But you can't own a game if you don't own your half of the field. The second half of play opened with the Eagles pitching tent in front of Lee.
Direct kick followed corner kick, which followed close-by throw-ins. The Jamestown forwards and midfielders danced menacingly through the JF box.
"We had 13 or 14 corner kicks," said Jamestown Head Coach Bobby O'Brien. "We knew something would come of that."
Finally, near the middle of the second half, the Eagles struck. Phil Geyer sent (yet another) corner kick toward the mouth of the JF goal. Matt Cullom simultaneously went airborne. The ball found the soaring Collum's noggin before finding its way past Lee.
The once ominous JF lead now appeared less so by half.
"You throw enough balls in there and something will go in," said JF Head Coach Jedd Zaring.
With under eight minutes to play, Jamestown got the equalizer when it was awarded a penalty kick when Hunter Hartnett was pushed when attempting to head a shot into the netting.
Kelly took the freebie, sending it into the lower left corner for the tie score.
The winning score came while the scoreboard clock stood frozen at 2:00 for what seemed like an eternity. (The clock on the field is the one that matters, and it accounts for injury time).
With, as it turns out, about 20 seconds left, Kelly set up Hartnett, who drove home the go-ahead tally.
The Cavs didn't even have time to regroup for a last-gasp run. Instead, they were a dazed and heartbroken lot that fell to the turf at the game's final whistle.
"I feel bad for this group of seniors," said Zaring. "When they look back on this season, though, they'll be proud."
And they should be. It's just that it'll take a while to get over the shocking ending to their final game for the Cavs.