SC's Derek Nelson (middle) is congratulated by teammates Chris Brown (8) and Jacob Bumgarner after scoring in the first half.
HURRICANE, W.Va. - In their awakening from the middle of the high school soccer pack, South Charleston players know all the teams that have kept them there.That has made some victories this fall so much sweeter. Case in point: the Black Eagles' 3-1 win Thursday night over defending Class AAA state champion Hurricane."We've been using that as motivation," said SC coach Ronnie Means. "Me and Ryan Broyles, who has been here five years with me, we keep track of teams that have our number, and Hurricane's been one of those teams."We challenged the kids today to come out and match their intensity."Which they did, and it took them just 12 minutes to be rewarded. Derek Nelson took a cross from Jonah Crosby behind the 18-yard box and blasted it by Hurricane keeper Tim Hayslett for a 1-0 lead.That lead stood up past halftime, but the Redskins tied it in the 52nd minute on Chris Smith's goal, assisted by Guillermo Ugarte. But that tie lasted just three minutes.It was in that 55th minute that Chris Brown found Jared Butler at the top of that 18-yard box, and Butler might as well have put the ball on a tee. The junior appeared to nearly whiff on the shot, but still got enough on it to get it forward, and Hayslett was fooled by the change of pace. "That was about the farthest back on my foot I couldn't have gotten it," Butler said. "It works."
Means said, "Jared Butler, he's probably got the best touch on the team. I don't know if he missed that or did that on purpose, because sometimes he does do some stuff with the ball that you won't believe, in practice. We've been telling him, 'You don't have to blast every time, just put it in the corner.'"Hurricane coach Derek Ragle wasn't worried about the shot's artistry. By his reckoning, his back-line defense wasn't artistic at all."Timmy does a good job back there, and sometimes he'll mistakes," Ragle said. "But to be honest, it was an error in marking. We've got to do a better job of getting with guys and staying with them. You know, not a lot of keepers are going to be able to stop a shot from about 15 yards away, point-blank."The Redskins pushed forward the last 25 minutes, creating several chances and forcing SC keeper Jacob Gordon to make eight saves. But in the 74th minute, Butler and Brown made Hurricane pay for its aggressiveness, with Brown outrunning Hayslett for a tap-in goal and a 3-1 lead.Hurricane fell to 6-3-1, while South Charleston rose to 7-3-1. Means said he saw a fundamental improvement in this match."We've had some problems earlier in the season, standing, guys wanting to dribble too much," he said. "I think they're finally seeing the results of what they can actually do if they play together.Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.