Hurricane's Ian Miles (left) and Winfield's Steven Taylor vie for a loose ball as the Redskins try to clear it out of their own end in Saturday's MSAC boys title game.
So what does Hurricane do for an encore after winning the Mountain State Athletic Conference championship?"We look at the next game,'' said Redskins coach Jim Dagostine. "We don't care who we're playing, we don't care where it's at and we don't care what it's for. You get that result and move on from there.''That mantra has served Hurricane well as it won its 17th straight game Saturday afternoon behind two goals from Felipe Thompson and another air-tight performance from the defense in dispatching Winfield 2-0 in the all-Putnam County title matchup.A crowd of about 100 attended the showdown of Class AAA state-ranked teams at Andrew Jordon Field at the Trace Fork Soccer Complex."One of the things I'm proudest of is as big and as much area [as] this conference covers, the two boys teams in the championship game are from our county,'' Dagostine said."I think that's pretty neat. But us and Winfield, we're part of a group of eight or 10 teams in our league and area, on any given day could beat each other.''Undefeated Hurricane (17-0), which has surrendered just eight goals all year, solidified its hold on the top spot in the state coaches association rankings. The Redskins defeated Winfield 1-0 earlier this year."Is the pressure of where we're at getting to us?'' asked Dagostine rhetorically. "Who knows? Whatever is supposed to be, will be. I know [our players] wanted to win this. I'm very proud of my guys.''The Redskins controlled play for most of the opening half, but had nothing to show for it until Thompson, a senior exchange student from Santiago, Chile, scored from the right post off a pass from senior Alex White for a 1-0 lead with 15:10 left before halftime. Thompson sent a laser into the net from midair after the ball took one bounce.
Thompson struck again with 20:59 to go off a setup from senior Rodrigo Bevaqua, an exchange student from Brazil, to set the final score. Hurricane senior defenders Evan and Ian Miles allowed the No. 3 Generals (12-2-2) just one shot on goal and junior keeper Tim Hayslett, who was starting his second game, made the stop."I'm just the one who scores, but behind that is all the team working,'' said Thompson, who has a Kanawha Valley-best 33 goals scored. "I think we're a good team and we're just playing our next game and our next game. Just focusing on the next game. That's how you have to think.''"He's a good teammate and he is unselfish,'' said Dagostine of Thompson. "He does add another dimension to something we haven't been able to do for several years and that's maybe be a little more dangerous putting the ball in goal. Not only does his presence make a difference, he gives [his teammates] a little better opportunities.''Winfield goalie Bryce Boggs made 11 saves."We had a couple of breakdowns,'' said Generals coach Mike Foster. "It didn't bounce our way. I'm proud of our boys the way they played. [Hurricane] just beat us. I think we're doing fine. We'll be all right.''Thompson said he is grateful for how his teammates have welcomed him with open arms.
"They're my friends,'' he said. "We know how to keep going and just win. If we lose, we will continue because we're a team.''Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4811.