There wasn’t much George Washington couldn’t count on Zak Abdul-Jalil for in 2019.
The senior defender bounced between the front and back of the Patriots’ attack, scoring both goals in a 2-0 Class AAA state championship win over Cabell Midland and leading a defensive unit that didn’t yield a goal in the entire postseason.
For his efforts on both sides, Abdul-Jalil was named captain of the Class AAA All-State boys soccer team as selected by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association. It marked Abdul-Jalil’s third straight first-team selection.
“His soccer skill is unmatched,” GW coach Erik Engle said. “We moved him up when we had to and when we needed him in the back, we put him in the back.”
Abdul-Jalil is part of a large GW senior class that won back-to-back state titles for the first time in program history. Two of his fellow seniors — midfielder Solomon Clark (13 goals, 10 assists) and E.J. Davis (20 goals) at utility — also made the first team.
“It’s a very special class to me,” Engle said. “It’s rough seeing them go, because they’re so talented.
“When you’re the state champion, everybody is going to give you their best game. But they had a goal that they set in the off-season that by the end of November, they wanted to be the first GW team to ever repeat and they were going to do whatever they needed to do in the off-season to make that happen.”
Joining GW with three representatives was Wheeling Park, which landed junior Coleman Meredith (18 goals, nine assists), senior midfielder Chris Romanek (10 goals, five assists) and senior defender Clay Meredith on the first team.
Three schools — University, Hurricane and Cabell Midland — landed two players apiece on the big-school top squad.
Junior forward Riley Nett (28 goals, five assists) and senior defender Pierce Spain (one goal, three assists) garnered first-team accolades for University.
Hurricane senior goalkeeper Nick Eskins, a Marshall commit, earned his second-straight first-team spot after pitching eight shutouts and leading the Redskins in assists with 11. Senior teammate Drake Lester (forward) also picked up his second-straight first-team nod after scoring 26 goals, with 13 of them coming off headers. Abdul-Jalil and Romanek were the only other two players to be named to the first team for the second straight year.
For state runner-up Cabell Midland, senior forward Omar Baryun (24 goals, five assists) and midfielder Simon Anton (12 goals, five assists) each landed on the first team.
Rounding out the Class AAA top squad were Buckhannon-Upshur senior forward Ryan Hurst (44 goals, 12 assists), Spring Mills senior defender Trace Adams, Hedgesville senior goalie Sean Monro (105 saves in 21 games, 25 goals allowed) and Martinsburg senior utility player Chris Catlett.
Brooke senior forward Josh Ferguson captained the second team after scoring 25 goals and notching 14 assists.