Hurricane boys return to states
ONA - Tim Hayslett had never been a goal keeper until this season. But he sure played like one Thursday night.
The Hurricane junior made two keys stops in the waning minutes to make senior Felipe Thompson's two goals stand up for a 2-1 victory over Huntington in the boys Class AAA Region 4 finals.
A crowd of about 600 attended the matchup of state-ranked teams at Cabell Midland High School.
The Redskins (21-0-1), who were No. 1 in the final state coaches association rankings, will square off with Hedgesville on Nov. 2 in the state tournament semifinals at Cline Field at the YMCA Youth Sports Complex In Beckley.
Hayslett made a diving stop on a shot, then reached out to gather the ball as it trickled from his body. Then in the last few seconds, Huntington put a shot on goal with some pace and Hayslett reached up to make the save, then picked up the ball as it hit the ground. He finished with eight stops.
"He didn't start until about the 12th or 13th game, and that was because we needed to get a little more physical back there,'' said Hurricane coach Jim Dagostine of Hayslett.
"He started in the off-season becoming a goal keeper. That's what we talked about. I guess all the work paid off. What a game. I don't know how many times you thought the ball would go in, but I thought it was going to be a bunch.''
Huntington took a 1-0 lead with 19:30 left in the opening half of Kyle Miller's tally on an assist from Jameson McCarthy.
Thompson, a foreign exchange student from Santiago, Chile, who leads the Kanawha Valley in scoring with 46 goals, netted an unassisted goal with 9:02 to go before halftime to knot the game at 1-all.
Thompson gave the Redskins the lead for good at 2-1 with 27:13 left in the second half off a setup from senior Trevor Cunningham. Thompson muscle his way past two defenders in the box and put a torpedo in the net.
"Felipe Thompson knows what to do with that ball when he gets it,'' Dagostine said. "The boys were resilient. We were on our heels a lot.''
No. 3 Huntington (16-3-1) and Hurricane were scheduled to meet during the regular season but didn't because a snafu.
Highlanders keeper Hunter Smith turned in two second-half saves.
"You get opportunities, it's just can you execute?'' said Huntington coach Sammy Boateng. "We executed some of them, and we didn't execute some of them.''
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at 304-348-5130 or email@example.com.