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Washington’s boys and Jefferson’s girls enjoyed successful seasons this fall and are being rewarded with top seeds in the WVSSAC Class AAA, Region II, sectional playoffs this week.

As the top seeds in a three-team section, the Patriot boys and Cougar girls have first-round byes.

Washington’s boys will play at 7 p.m. home match on Thursday, at Terry L. Marcus Stadium against the Hampshire-Jefferson winner. Jefferson’s girls face the Hampshire at Washington winner at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Shenandoah Junction.

The sectional winners advance to next week’s Region II playoffs at Hampshire High School in Romney. Regional winners advance to the state semifinals in Beckley’s Paul Cline Memorial Soccer Complex.

Jefferson’s boys and girls reached the Class AAA state semifinals last year.

While Washington’s boys and Jefferson’s girls are the top seeds in this year’s sectionals, there’s much work to be done on both teams prior to Thursday’s sectional championship.

The Patriots’ boys held a 2-1 lead on Jefferson in last Friday’s regular-season matchup with the Cougars at Shenandoah Junction before a Vinnie Bocchetti goal with 14 minutes, 7 seconds to go in the match enabled Jefferson to salvage a 2-2 tie.

“I felt we had some serious defensive breakdowns in this match,” Washington coach Anton Wenner said. “There are definitely some things we have to work on before our next match.”

The Jefferson bench, on the other hand, was enjoying the moment, thanks to Bocchetti’s match-tying goal from close-range. Not a bad effort, considering earlier in the match, he took a hard shot to the head on a ball kicked by a Jefferson player.

Bocchetti had to leave the field, but was later cleared by the trainer to return to the match. He showed no apparent signs of taking that hard shot when he fired in the match-tying goal.

“As long as he’s breathing, he wants to be on the field,” Jefferson coach Joe Moffett said of Bocchetti. “As long as the trainer clears him, he will play. Vinnie’s been an intense player for us all season.”

Jefferson took a 1-0 lead against Washington when Bryce Everline fired a right-to-left shot across the mouth of the Patriots’ goal, which ended up in the back left corner of the net with 29 minutes, 31 seconds left in the first half. Eleven minutes latter, Washington tied the match at 1 when Tommy Segura converted a close-range shot.

The Patriots took a 2-1 lead with 19:09 left in the match when Sam Fish scored a right-to-left goal. Five minutes later, Bocchetti scored the match-tying goal.

Connor Barr had seven saves for Jefferson. Washington’ Ryan Johnson had three saves.

A goal by Cameron Dillow, with 12:55 left in the match, was enough for Jefferson’s girls to escape with a 1-0 win over Washington on Tuesday, Oct. 12, at Terry L. Marcus Stadium in Jefferson’s regular-season finale. 

Dillow took a key pass from Lorelei Bangit, trying a shot with her left foot, but missed.

“The ball hit off the keeper’s gloves,” Dillow said. “I went back for it and took the second shot.”

The match also proved to be somewhat of a challenge for Jefferson keeper Sera Hawley, who has been battling a hip injury. Yet, she had 10 saves against the Patriots.

“I was horrified the whole time,” Hawley said of her hip issue. “I was really worried about how it would turn out, but things worked out alright.”

Jefferson’s girls carry a 12-1-2 record into Thursday’s sectional championship match. Cougars’ coach Heather Andrew liked the way her team bounced back after a lackluster performance against Spring Mills, where the Cougars and Cardinals played to a 1-1 tie.

“We both played badly,” Andrew said. “Both teams were in a mental block. Everyone was off their game a little bit.”

Washington, which closed out its regular season last Thursday, with a 1-0 home win over Hampshire, has made a lot of positive strides this season, coach Tim Michael said, but there’s still the matter of cleaning up the little things, which seemed to be nagging at the Patriots.

“They know what they need to work on,” Michael said. “Once we finally get there, I think, we’ll be a really, really hard team to beat. We can hold our own with pretty-much anybody, but we’ve had some mental lapses. We’ve got to clear the ball on defense.”

On offense, Michael said he would like the Patriots to not be afraid of taking a few chances. “We need to be going in, going hard,” he said. “Sometimes, we back away, then everybody else steps in front.”

Michael said he’s been impressed with the progress of freshman keeper Erica Schable. “She’s been growing throughout the season,” he said. “She’ll probably be one of the best keepers in the state.”

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