CHARLES TOWN – One minute, Washington’s Will Morgan is taking aim at Jefferson’s goal in last Thursday’s Class AAA, Region II Sectional boys soccer match. He remembers the ball bouncing off the crossbar straight down. The official signaled the ball had bounced behind the goal line and a goal had been scored.
Morgan realized he just won the match with his kick. The next minute, Morgan’s mind is a complete blank.
“I don’t know, it was all just a blur after that,” Morgan said. “It was like crazy.”
Seconds later, it all set in. The Patriots had defeated county-rival Jefferson, 3-2, in overtime, to win their sectional championship, punching its ticket to Thursday’s Region II championship match at Hampshire High School in Romney, where Washington will face Section I champion Hedgesville.
The Eagles edged Musselman, 1-0, in the Section I championship match last Thursday.
It ended up being a Washington sweep of the Section II soccer championships. Over at Shenandoah Junction, the Patriots shocked host Jefferson, 2-0, to advance to next Thursday’s regional girls championship match at Hampshire, where they will face Spring Mills, which ousted Hedgesville, 2-0, in the Section I championship.
Thursday’s regional champion has a date in Beckley in two weeks at Paul Cline Memorial Soccer Complex, where the state semifinals and championships will be held. Jefferson’s boys and girls were the reigning regional champions.
It was just week ago, as Shenandoah Junction, where Washington and Jefferson’s boys played to a 2-2 tie. The Patriots had a bye in the sectional semifinals, so Jefferson defeated Hampshire in a 3-2 match, earning a rematch with the Patriots, this time at Terry L. Marcus Stadium.
The Patriots had a chance to win the match in regulation, but Jefferson’s Pedro Romero put in a shot in close to the Washington goal, tying the match at 2, with 5 minutes, 25 seconds to go in regulation. Both teams had opportunities for match-winning goals during the final five minutes of regulation, but could not convert, so the match went into overtime.
With less than six minutes to go in overtime, Morgan made his move.
“I just shot it,” he said. “It hit the post. Then, it hit down. The Jefferson team had thought it bounced out, the ball definitely went in.”
Since the final regular-season matchup between Jefferson was so tight it came as little surprise to anyone that, this time around, another close match was going to take place.
The Patriots grabbed a 1-0 led 10 minutes into the match when Cameron Portillo took a pass from Jack Walker, shooting the ball past Jefferson keeper Connor Barr, into the back right-hander corner of the net. The Cougars equalized at the 7:45 mark when Chase Brown fired in a close-range goal.
Washington went up 2-1 with 30:07 left in regulation on an in-close goal by Tommy Segura. Walker had the assist.
“Someone crossed it into the box,” Segura said. “It went off of Jack’s foot, then bounced back perfectly into position for me just to be able to poke the ball into the corner of the goal.”
Washington (12-3-4) outshot Jefferson, 17-14. Ryan Anderson had four saves for the Patriots.
“This was a really, really close game again,” Washington coach Anton Wenner said. “We knew it would be. Jefferson played an incredible game. My hats off to them for that.”
Barr had eight saves for Jefferson.
Cougars’ coach Joe Moffett said the team made adjustments throughout the match in order to hang with Washington.
“Guys stepped up big time when we needed them, especially after we gave up that first goal,” he said. “A lot guys dropped their heads, but our seniors boys kept them in the match. It was a battle.”
During the regular season, Jefferson’s girls edged Washington at Washington, 1-0, on Oct. 12. Washington coach Tim Michael had noted earlier in the season one of the team’s issues had been the inability for the Patriots to convert on good scoring opportunities while in the attacking third of the field.
“They know what they need to work on,” Michael said recently. “Once we finally get there, I think, we’ll be a really, really hard team to beat.”
Last Thursday, the Patriots (13-5) found that scoring punch right when they needed it, scoring both of its goals in the first half.
Hannah Hill and Chloe Miller had Washington’s goals in the first half. Sera Hawley had 10 saves for Jefferson.