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Cave Spring slips past Salem in one semifinal as Blacksburg grabs a blowout win in the other.
T.J. WITTEN | Special to The Roanoke Times
Cave Spring forward Will Bradley (10) scores on a rebound off Salem keeper Andrew Franklin (1) in Thursday’s Region IV semifinal.
Friday, May 31, 2013
They say the third time is the charm. For the Cave Spring boys soccer team, it was No. 4 that mattered.
The Knights (14-7) edged Salem 2-1 in the Region IV tournament semifinals, avenging three earlier losses this year to the Spartans. With the victory, Cave Spring earns the right to play Blacksburg tonight for the regional title. The Bruins crushed Martinsville 5-1 in Thursday’s opening semifinal.
Both Cave Spring and Blacksburg qualified for next week’s Group AA state tournament.
Cave Spring’s win was particularly sweet for the home crowd because the Knights were without leading scorer Kyle Gunville, who suffered a broken foot in Tuesday’s 3-0 win over Bassett. Gunville came out of the Bassett game when he was tripped from behind in a potential goal-scoring situation. X-rays confirmed his foot was fractured.
“I wasn’t sure how we would function without our leader in goals and our leader in assists,” said Cave Spring coach Brad Collins. “But it’s pretty much been ‘next man up’ for this group all season. We lost Alex Nguyen to injury in the preseason and we kept going.”
Gunville’s absence served as a motivator for the Knights.
Senior forward Will Bradley scored on a rebound off of Salem keeper Andrew Franklin in the game’s 10th minute. The Knights other goal came from senior defenseman Matt Ketterer, who headed the ball into the net three minutes into the second half when he converted a long throw-in from sophomore Trevor Durham.
“We came out tonight with the intensity and the desire to take Cave Spring to the state [tournament] for the first time in a long time,” Bradley said. “I anticipated a shot would be bobbled by the keeper and I was there to finish it up.”
Salem tied the game in the 31st minute when Jack Maxey, the River Ridge District’s most valuable player, gathered a loose ball in front of the net and scored.
Knights freshman keeper Adam Sledd had made a save on the previous shot but was unable to cradle the ball.
“I have no complaints on how we played,” said Salem coach Dean Jones. “I thought we totally outplayed them and we beat them three out of four times this year. But they go on and we have to go home.” Salem finished the year 11-7-2.
Late arrivals at the first game could have missed Blacksburg’s opening barrage. Garland Smith, who returned to action just this week after a bout with mononucleosis, scored twice before the game was six minutes old. The first score was unassisted, but Geinda Smith (no relation) fed his teammate for the second score.
“We really came out with intensity,” said Blacksburg coach Shelley Blumenthal. “That put pressure on them from the start. Their keeper [freshman Cody Martin] had a tremendous game, though. We could have had several more goals.”
“That was big,” said Martinsville coach Pete Scouras of the winners’ fast start. “We let No. 10 [Smith] run free at the beginning and you can’t do that against one of the best players in the state.”
The Bruins (17-0-2) added three second-half goals in a five-minute span, with sophomore Harrison Bankhead scoring twice. Sophomore Shane Mecham had Blacksburg’s final goal.
Bulldog Fatgezim Bela spoiled Blacksburg’s shutout with less than two minutes left.
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