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Sports · June 14, 2015

Soccer team wins Cougars’ first state championship

Photo/Greg VanNostrand
Blacksburg defenders Wes Ebel and Justin Mecham push ball across their own goal line giving Kettle Run a 2-1 lead with 53 seconds remaining in Saturday night's 3A boys soccer state championship. Cougar sophomore forward Reece Cooke got credit for the goal as he last touched the ball.
Reece Cooke's touch of ball in scoring sequence.
Sophomore midfielder Kevin Coleman started sequence via a corner kick. Coleman also earned an assist on Kettle Run's first goal of the game that tied it 1-1.
Sophomore forward Bhayle Kearns deserved credit for Kettle Run's first goal says Derek Schauss, whose name went in record book for it.
Garrett Magill, Kevin Coleman and Jake Waltrous wait to hug Kettle Run Coach Phil Roper after the win.
I didn’t have the angle to see if it went in or not. It was a scrum. I was hoping for a touch in the chaos with the ball in the back of the net when it was done. Fortunately, the AR (assistant referee) was in position and ruled it a score.
— Kettle Run Coach Phil Roper
Photos by Greg VanNostrand

Even Reece Cooke doesn’t know how he scored the winning goal in Saturday night’s VHSL 3A boys soccer championship.

But he got credit for the Kettle Run goal.

Fifty-three seconds later the Cougars (19-1-1) had a 2-1 win over Blacksburg and the school’s first state title in any sport.

Dejected, the Bruins (21-2) saw their second-straight championship loss and 20-game winning streak come to an end.

The scoring sequence began when sophomore midfielder Kevin Coleman played a series of corner kicks.

With the first two rejected Coleman aimed his third one inside a box full of players from both teams.

Cooke touched the ball as he went to the ground.

“I didn’t see it after I hit it because I was on the ground,” the sophomore forward said. “I got the first touch and had a 50-50 with the keeper who had come out of the box.”

With the keeper out of the way only two Bruin defenders separated the ball from the goal line.

The ball slowed on the wet grass but never crossed the line.

Blacksburg’s Wes Ebel and Justin Mecham slid on the wet grass pushing the ball across the goal.

“I didn’t have the angle to see if it went in or not,” Kettle Run Coach Phil Roper said. “It was a scrum. I was hoping for a touch in the chaos with the ball in the back of the net when it was done.

“Fortunately, the AR (assistant referee) was in position and ruled it a score.”

That pronouncement sent the Kettle Run fans who endured a three-hour plus thunderstorm delay into a frenzy.

The Kettle Run players had to curtail their excitement with time still on the clock.

Finally as the announcer clicked off the final 10 seconds Cougar goalie Jakob Schoenike got mobbed by teammates in a pile near midfield.

“It was a heck of a game,” Coach Roper said. “It’s the kind of game you want for a championship game. Before the final goal, I was thinking we’d go into overtime but we’ve been fortunate this post season.”

Coach Roper thought back to the 3A East regional June 5 against Lafayette at Huguenot High School in Richmond.

“We were thinking O.T. then and all of a sudden Kevin (Coleman) scored the game winner in the final minute.”

The Bruins took a 1-0 first-half lead on Tieg Lesko’s slippery kick past Schoenike with 2:36 left in the period.

“Their score was a dumb decision on my part,” Schoenike said. “I was passive and it cost me. The wet grass gave the ball an extra skip and I misjudged it.”

Schoenike didn’t make that mistake again.

He had several great saves, including one just before the end of the half where he extended his body past the left bar pushing the ball away.

Kettle Run tied the game in the 52nd minute on a Kevin Coleman-assisted goal made good by Derek Schauss.

Schauss said after the game he didn’t score it but would take credit.

“Bhayle (Kearns) actually scored it,” Schauss said. “Kevin broke ankles in the corner, played it across and the ball popped off the goalies’ (Will Linkenhoker) chest. We had watched him do that before the game.

“When it popped back onto the field Bhayle was there and put it in.”

Just like the score itself the game played close for both teams.

Kettle Run outshot Blacksburg 11-9 including a 7-2 advantage in the second half.

The Bruins had one more save than the Cougars, winning 4-3.

“We told (Schoenike) before the game he had to own the box and he did tonight,” Coach Roper said. “He had a heck of a game. Take away that one goal he gave up and it was almost perfect.

“The ball took a nasty skip and unless his reflexes were insane, no one would have been able to stop it.”

Blacksburg produced a 9-6 advantage on corners.

“That was the difference,” Schauss said. “We finished ours. They didn’t.”

The game had a scheduled 4:45 p.m., start but thunderstorms hit Liberty University just as player introductions began.

Introductions resumed three hours and five minutes later and the game continued under darkening clouds and a hint of rain.

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martinkus · June 14, 2015 at 12:48 pm
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