South Charleston's Isaac Cosby is double-teamed by George Washington's Connor Boyd (3) and Caleb Barnette.
Caleb Barnette's day mirrored the autumn weather.The George Washington senior co-captain weathered some dark clouds Saturday before the sun shined through, scoring the decisive goal in the second round of penalty kicks to send the Patriots past South Charleston 1-0 in the Class AAA Region 3 Section 1 championship game. A crowd of about 250 attended the matchup of state-ranked boys high school soccer teams at Andrew Jordon Field at the Trace Fork Soccer Complex.GW (15-5-2), the defending state champion that was fifth in the final state coaches association rankings, will meet No. 20 Woodrow Wilson (9-7-4) in the regional at approximately 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Schoenbaum Soccer Stadium. The Patriots shut out the Flying Eagles 2-0 Aug. 23.All AAA regional games were originally scheduled for Thursday, but because of a scheduling conflict at Schoenbaum the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission permitted the GW-Woodrow game to be moved to a different date.
SC seniors Justin Bumgarner and Rashad Kincaid converted their penalty kicks while GW junior keeper Garrett Phillips and senior Garrett Warner made theirs to forge a 2-2 tie during the second round, which is a sudden-death format.Black Eagles senior Jarod Jobst miss-hit his attempt and the ball slowly rolled just outside the right post without Phillips having to make a save.Barnette, who was replaced early in the opening half before returning to his defensive position after halftime, followed by striking the ball confidently, sending it along the ground and just inside the left post and under SC senior keeper Hunter Moles for the clinching score. Barnette turned toward his teammates, who mobbed him along the way as he ran to the center circle to celebrate. Moles finished with seven saves.
"Just like practice,'' said Barnette. "Everything I do is routine. I really didn't think about the consequences. It felt good. That's how I normally hit my penalties. Hunter made a good attempt. It just went my way this time. I just guessed right. It's a penalty that I like.''Barnette was having a tough day on the pitch, but GW coach Tom Hopper stuck with his senior."I wasn't playing my best and it was for the best of the team,'' said Barnette of getting benched. "I'm glad my coaches trusted me and put me back in.''"The first 10 minutes he was really struggling,'' added Hopper. "It was a difficult decision to keep him in or not. We put him back in and he came through. It was sort of like a meant-to-be kind of thing. Sometimes you have to kind of go with your gut. My gut was there for him to take a PK.''
GW and No. 7 SC (14-5-1) remained scoreless after 110 minutes, which included two mandatory 10-minute periods followed by two five-minute periods in which the next goal wins. The Patriots had a goal disallowed in the ninth minute of the second half while the Black Eagles had a score called back in the first five-minute overtime period because of a hand-ball violation.After Moles missed the first penalty kick in the first round, SC sophomores Jared Butler and Noah Riley came through to give the Black Eagles a 2-0 edge. GW's first two players missed their kicks before junior Daniel Glines made one to close to 2-1 with two shooters left for each team.Phillips, who turned in seven stops, stymied SC senior Devyn Harris with a diving stop, but Moles matched it on GW junior Graham Platz's attempt as the Black Eagles clung to a 2-1 advantage.Junior Chris Brown put his shot off the crossbar on SC's final attempt, which if made would have won the game. Junior Noah Miller converted GW's last penalty kick to knot the first round at 2-2 and force the second round.
"We thought we had them, but a couple of bounces didn't go our way,'' said SC coach Ronnie Means. "We'd been working on [penalty kicks] for a while because we knew it was a possibility. We felt strong about the guys we had up there. Some things happened and you can't change anything. We still feel proud. The kids played their hearts out."The kids have improved tremendously over the season and the last four years. We've got a bright future I think. We're still bringing back a lot of key guys from this year's squad. We lose a lot of seniors, but the young guys have improved and we're still bringing back six or seven starters. We just have to have a couple of guys step into roles and I think we'll be right back here.''GW, which lost seven starters from last year's title team, seems to be gaining steam after closing the regular season with two losses in its last three games."We're on a roll,'' said Phillips. "We have a lot of confidence going. We've just got to keep it going.''"I like my team,'' added Barnette. "We're playing real well. Hopefully we'll keep going.''Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at email@example.com or 304-348-4811.