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WYTHEVILLE –– The politically correct and thus more palatable term favored by the VHSL is ‘sudden victory’ overtime. It all depends upon one’s perspective. Radford could certainly go along with the categorization, Galax would strongly disagree.
The Bobcats’ Carson Hooper scored on a header off of a Juan Perez corner kick with 10 seconds remaining in the second stage of overtime, bringing an abrupt end to a physical defensive battle and lifting Radford to the Region C boys’ soccer championship at George Wythe’s Pendleton Field.
Hooper’s header capped a match that pitted the only two teams in the last 16 years to hoist the region champion’s trophy. The Bobcats (19-0) claimed their 13th title in that time span, avenging a loss to the Maroon Tide (20-1) in last year’s final, and will face the Region D runner-up Tuesday in the Group A quarterfinals. Galax will travel to meet the Region D champion.
“It’s that consistency we’ve talked about,” Galax coach Troy Barkley said. “I feel like this is one of the better games we’ve played, I feel like we’ll get to see them again next week, and I hope we get to see them again. But of there is a time to take a loss, this is it, because nothing will motivate you like this will.”
“They wore us out pretty good in last year’s regional finals, and this is one of the things we wanted to do this year,” said Radford coach Greg Wade. “One thing I think helped us is we played a lot of guys throughout the year, and we didn’t sub as much as we have been but we did go 17-18 deep.”
Fresher legs seemed to pay off down the stretch as the Bobcats spent most of the final 20 minutes of regulation on their offensive end of the field.
Still, scoring chances were rare for either team as the two combined for just 12 shots in nearly 100 minutes of soccer. The only two shots on goal for either were the ones that found the net.
“Radford’s defense rotates so well, they know their assignments, and our defense played well,” said Barkley. “The game was won in the middle of the field, who gained the most possession and who won the most balls.”
Radford had trailed 1-0 since the 13th minute, when Edgar Guzman’s centering pass skipped through two Radford defenders and to Andres Medina at the back post for the Tide’s only goal.
“You can’t leave No. 7 [Medina] or 10 [Junior Espinosa] uncovered,” said Wade. “They’re both great players and we wanted to make sure we kept them covered.”
The Bobcats were five short minutes away from defeat in regulation before finally breaking through the Maroon Tide defense. A Hooper throw-in near the left corner rattled off of two heads and at least as many feet, remaining aloft until Caleb Findley headed the ball just inside the right post for a 1-1 match in the 75th minute.
Two five-minute overtime periods produced nothing in the way of scoring chances, and the Maroon Tide couldn’t take advantage of a 2-on-2 breakaway midway through the five-minute sudden victory period.
“These are two great teams, and hopefully two teams that will see each other next Saturday at R.U.,” said Wade. “Just two tough teams going at it. Our touch wasn’t real good today, but you find ways to win and we’re very happy to be Region C champs again.”
Region C Boys’ championship
at Pendleton Field, Wytheville
Radford 2, Galax 1, OT
Halftime – Galax 1, Radford 0.
Scoring: Gx – A.Medina 13’ (Guzman); Rad – Findley 75’ (unassisted); Rad – Hooper 100’ (Perez).
Shots (on goal) 5(1) 7(2)
Fouls 11 8
Corner kicks 0 3
Offsides 4 0
Yellow cards 1 0
Red cards 0 0
Saves 0 0
Yellow cards – Jordan (Gx)