Second seeded Cave Spring edged third seeded Lord Botetourt in the semifinal round of last week’s Region 3D soccer tournament, leaving the Cavaliers one win shy of a trip to the state tournament. The host Knights took a 2-1 win in a well-played game.
Both teams came out of the gates strong and fast but Cave Spring struck first to take the 1-0 lead. A few minutes later, the Cavaliers scrambled for the ball inside the box and Dylan Salvi connected to find the back of the net and level the score. That’s how it stood at intermission.
The second half was nip and tuck all the way. The Cavaliers had a chance to take the lead off of a penalty kick, but the ball hit the post and the game remained tied. Then, with five minutes to play, the Knights attempted a cross from the left side and the misplaced cross caught the goalie off guard and found the net, giving Cave Spring a 2-1 lead with precious little time remaining. In the last few minutes, the Cavaliers had a few chances but couldn’t capitalize and Cave Spring moved on to the region championship and a spot in the state tournament.
LB finished the season with a 14-4-2 overall record, including an 8-2 record in the district and trophies for winning both the Blue Ridge District regular season and tournament. Botetourt was 1-3-2 after six games but turned things around, winning 13 straight before the close loss to Cave Spring ended the season.
“Not the start that any team wants, but after our loss to Franklin County these boys came together as a team and worked their tails off,” said coach Taylor Leonard, who was named BRD Coach of the Year in his first season at the helm. “Practices were more intense, players were communicating more, and the environment was very positive and competitive. We had nine players earn all-district honors. It was just a successful season, and the boys made the best of it.
“We talked about building a brotherhood and a strong knit family. I have never seen a group come so close together and fight so hard each night on the pitch.”
Botetourt graduated 13 senior soccer players a few weeks ago.
“Each senior made an impact,” said Leonard. “They were a great group, and some of them I had the chance to coach for five years. Those relationships that were built on this team will be my favorite memory of the season. We played one of the biggest battles I have ever seen between two teams. Both teams had the heart and fight. I couldn’t ask for a better game to be a part of. This team has accomplished so much, and I am truly honored to be their coach.”