Capital breaks through for sectional win
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A good goalkeeper can keep any team in a soccer game, but if you pound on the strongest of brick walls long enough it's bound to crack.
Such was the case as Capital controlled possession throughout and finally placed a few balls where even Riverside goalie Austin Ballangee couldn't reach them in a 3-0 victory over the Warriors in a Class AAA Region 3 Section 1 boys matchup on a chilly Monday night at Trace Fork.
Capital will play George Washington at 8 p.m. Thursday in one sectional semifinal with South Charleston and Ripley squaring off at 6 p.m. in the other.
The Cougars held a shot advantage of 25-5, including 14-3 on goal, but were held scoreless until early in the second half due mostly to Ballangee's efforts. They also took 11 corner kicks compared to just two for Riverside.
Still, Capital stuck to its game plan of firing away and was rewarded with three scores in the second half and most importantly a win.
"We just wanted to have faith in one another and just believe we could keep going at it," Capital coach Bradford Clark said. "Their keeper played an amazing game. We just went in with the thought that if we keep shooting and keep shooting it's going to break. I'm really impressed with the guys."
Keenan Barbzette was the first to break through off a cross from Fernando Martinez just 1:24 into the second half.
With the game still in question, Thomas Preston found the back of the net on a rebound with 15:32 left after Ballangee had made two consecutive saves with the ball being volleyed all around the box.
Barbzette assisted on the third goal, which was booted in by Zac Koontz in the closing minutes.
"We played really well," Clark said. "We were communicating, we were doing the small things right that we've been talking about all season. I'm just really happy and it's well deserved for the guys."
Ballangee ended up with 11 saves but scoring chances were tough to come by for Riverside, and when an opportunity did arise the Warriors (3-10-1) seemed to fall just short. Capital keeper Kevin Jones needed just three saves to complete the shutout.
"We've got a young team and I think the boys have done as good as they can do this season and I'm proud of them whether they win or lose," Riverside coach Amy Miller said. "My keeper is fantastic, [forward Cameron Norris] is an excellent player as well and I'm proud of them."
The Cougars (7-8-1) now have an opportunity to avenge a 3-0 defeat at the hands of No. 1 George Washington on Oct. 3 and will fly into Thursday's game with momentum, nothing to lose, and a chance to make waves around the state.
"Hopefully we can turn the tide on [the GW loss]," Clark said. "It's the small things that we've talked about. Just making sure we have faith in each other, playing as a team, believing in each other, and doing the small things so the big things are possible."
Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/RPritt.