Even after picking up sectional, regional and Class AAA state championship trophies a year ago, returners on George Washington’s boys soccer team still had a final box to check this season.
Thanks to some stellar play along the back line and a bomb of a goal in the waning seconds of the first half, the Patriots did that on Thursday.
Junior striker Max Trethewey ripped a shot from 40 yards out with just 11 seconds left in the first half that was placed perfectly under the cross bar and the GW defense did the rest, securing a 1-0 win over Cabell Midland in the Mountain State Athletic Conference title game on Thursday at Trace Fork.
It was the first conference championship for the Patriots since 2016, and though bigger prizes lie ahead in the weeks to come, Thursday’s win was a great start toward repeating last year’s postseason success.
“It was one of their goals at the beginning of the season,” GW coach Erik Engle said. “They’ve checked off that goal this season. We’ve got a few more to go, but we’ve taken care of this one.”
It was far from easy as the Patriots (17-1) had to hold off a spirited effort from Midland (9-4-2) in earning their second one-goal victory over the Knights this season. By and large, Midland went toe-to-toe with GW and had several opportunities in and around the box.
But the Patriots have long hung their hats on defense and, led by seniors Zak Abdul-Jalil and Dylan Lewis along with sophomore Gabe Sadorra, GW was able to fight off Midland’s pressure.
“I’m always pleased with their defensive effort, our back line never give up, they play as hard as they can and they’re one of the best back lines in the state in my opinion,” Engle said. “But I will say, they were tested a lot.”
Indeed, Midland spent a good amount of time trying to find room in GW’s defensive backfield, but only got two shots on goal, both of which were saved by the Patriots’ Kevin Tiffey. Midland’s Cameron Grobe made eight saves.
“Unfortunately we didn’t get the equalizer to get caught up,” Cabell Midland coach Brian McNeel said. “But I really think we were evenly matched throughout.”
Trethewey said he wasn’t paying much attention to the time and simply took advantage of some hard-to-come-by space with a look at the goal.
“I got a really good ball from my teammate who set me up,” the junior said. “I checked my shoulder and I saw the keeper in the middle of the goal — I had an opening for a shot so I took it. I wasn’t really paying attention to time but I knew there wasn’t much left, so I went for it.”
“Max is a special player,” Engle added. “He’s had some off nights in terms of some of his touches the last few games, but that was not off. That was dead on.”