The James River soccer teams played a girls-boys doubleheader at home against Radford last week, always one of the highlights of the spring season. This time around the boys tied the Bobcats, 2-2, while the girls took a 2-1 win.
The boys fell behind early and trailed 2-0 at the half. River rallied in the second half of a very physical game to pull out the tie.
“We decided to stick with our game plan, stay focused and just play soccer,” said coach Jared Whiting. “Early into the second half we started winning the mental game and the physical game soon followed. It was definitely a very physical game and these guys stepped up for it.”
River dominated in overtime but just couldn’t find the back of the net.
“Overall, we played a very good game,” said Whiting. “I was proud of the way the guys kept their heads both when we were down by two goals and also when things got pretty rough with high tensions on the field at the end. A lot of yellow cards were thrown late in the game but not to us. It shows the character and sportsmanship of these guys.”
Chase Cuddy and Justin Hill had goals for River and Isaac Bell had two assists.
The girls continued a hot rivalry with Radford with a 2-1 win. In the last state tournament the Radford Bobcats finished third and the Knights finished fourth in the state, after finishing first and second respectively in the region.
“This rivalry goes back many years and the game is always good when they meet,” said River coach Bill Smith.
From the start the Knights possessed the ball the majority of the time and kept the play in the Radford end. Myla Lester started the scoring 11 minutes into the game, converting a textbook free kick from long range, and River led 1-0 at the break.
The second half was much of the same with James River having more of the ball and the Bobcats counterattacking. Radford tied the game when Makenzie Page drove past the defense to score an equalizer with 14 minutes left on the clock.
Close calls at both ends kept the fans on the edge of the bleachers, but neither team could convert in regulation. After a short break the weary teams took to the field for two five-minute overtimes periods. Many of these players from both sides had played the full 80 minutes already, but there was no drop off in play.
Bridgette West came through in the clutch in the closing minute of the first OT period, scoring in heavy traffic from the top of the box. The second OT period was a frenzy of activity but the score held and the Knights secured the victory.
Haley Meadows made 12 saves for the Knights.
On Monday the girls hosted the Southwest Virginia Home School team and avenged a 3-2 loss from the week prior with a 1-0 win at the Vinyard Sports Complex in Roanoke County
“This field, while short on amenities, is one of the best in the area, very large with excellent Bermuda grass,” said Smith. “ Although the SVHS home team was used to this high-quality surface the Knights adapted and thrived.”
After a scoreless first half River’s Morgan Marshall converted off a Kayla Myers assist 13 minutes after intermission. Meadows had 14 saves for the Knights, who improved to 4-1-1 overall.
Both teams will host Glenvar tonight with the girls at 5:30 p.m. and the boys to follow.