The James River girls battled a strong Radford team to the brink but came up one goal short in the Region 2C soccer semifinal last week. The host Bobcats pulled out a 3-2 win in Radford and went on to win the region and advance to this week’s state tournament.
River was coming off an 11-0 thumping of Patrick County in the quarterfinal round in Springwood. Goals were scored by Kayla Myers, Morgan Marshall, Haylee Harris, Natalie Hughes, Bridgette West, Vianey Ramirez, Myla Lester and Drew Whitson as the Knights rolled to a 10-0 halftime lead and breezed to the win.
Coach Bill Smith knew the semifinal game with Radford would be a whole different ballgame. Radford was the second seed in the tournament and got to host the third seeded Knights in what has become a very good rivalry.
“It’s always a good match when these two teams face off and this game was no exception,” said Smith.
From the opening whistle James River controlled the ball and kept possession on the Radford end of the field, but the Bobcats capitalized on a breakaway with Mackenzie Page finishing in a scramble in front of goal midway through the first half.
James River continued to control the game for the rest of the half. Morgan Marshall finished to tie the score, assisted by Alise Orent with seven minutes left in the period and it was 1-1 at the half.
Page scored again for the Bobcats with 12:54 on the clock in the second half, but Kayla Myers changed the momentum with a rapid response, assisted by Myla Lester 30 seconds later to tie the score again at 2-2.
The remaining minutes were increasingly intense as both teams saw victory as a very real opportunity. A free kick just outside the penalty area with two minutes on the clock tipped the balance. Page headed in a precision kick from Kathryn Vinson for her third goal of the night to take the lead. For two minutes the Knights threw everything forward but to no avail, as Radford held on for a 3-2 win.
Haley Meadows made four saves for River in the goal while Caroline Wheeler of Radford had two turn back 15 James River shots.
River finished with a 9-2-1 record.
“We had a great run this season and prospects are strong for another good one in 2022,” said Smith.