Boys soccer wins region championship


Jessica Hendricks

The team raises their trophy in celebration after winning the regional championship game

The boys’ soccer team won a close match over Deep Run on June 3 to become the champions of region 5C and earn a home game in the first round of the state tournament. 

Junior Adam Selby is thrilled that the team was able to pull off the victory and erase any doubts about their abilities. 

“It feels really good to be a champ,” Selby said. “Many people didn’t really expect us to win since we came in [to the regional tournament] as a 4th seed, but all of us on the team knew that we had a good chance to lift the trophy. So I always knew that we could win.”

The Cavaliers won in the penalty kick period after the teams remained deadlocked at two goals each following regulation, two five minute overtime periods, and two five minute sudden death periods.

Selby and senior Chris Chavez scored the Cavs’ goals during regulation. Selby was able to put the ball in the back of the net following a miscommunication between two Deep Run players that led to him getting a one on one opportunity against the keeper. His goal tied the game after the Wildcats scored first. 

“It always feels good to score, but that was probably one of my most important goals of the season, so it felt a little better than all the others,” Selby said. “The best part of the goal was that it elevated my team which led to us scoring another goal just a few minutes later.”

He credits an in-game strategy change with helping the Cavs match Deep Run in regulation and force overtime. Before the shift, Deep Run controlled possession and had most of the scoring opportunities. 

“Once we figured out what they were doing we shifted our game plan slightly which allowed us to play better,” Selby said.

According to junior Dom Campo, the team knew that they had to give the most effort they had all season in order to have a chance to beat Deep Run on their own field. Once the game reached extra time, each moment was filled with pressure with the game on the line. 

“Every little moment from the second half to double OT was filled with adrenaline and close calls for both teams,” Campo said. “For me, I spent most of overtime sprinting across the field and pressuring their back line more than I have ever had to, but it paid off in the end.”

Despite the Cavs’ efforts in overtime and sudden death, penalty kicks had to decide the game. They beat Deep Run four goals to two in the penalty kick period after senior goalkeeper Jaden Johnson made two saves and junior Michael Hunter scored the winning goal. 

“Winning against Deep Run with the double overtime, sudden death, and the pks felt like a movie,” Johnson said. “It was a moment I would dream of as a kid, showing up on the biggest stage and helping deliver a big win for the regional title.”

Johnson makes a save during a Deep Run penalty kick (Jessica Hendricks)

Johnson credits his preparation in the days leading up to the game with enabling him to make his saves during Deep Run’s penalty kicks. He watched film to understand the tendencies of the players he would face.

“For the two shots I stopped, those were the people I saw on film,” Johnson said. “When the lights were on, teams lined up, I knew this was my shot to make history.”

He also thanks his teammates for giving him confidence because he emphasizes that playing in goal is more taxing mentally than physically. Because of their encouragement, he was ready to face the shots from Deep Run. 

 “In the moment with each save there was a little bit of joy, but I was locked in,” Johnson said. “I could hear the crowd going wild with every miss and make, but relief only came when Michael hit an absolute banger to give us the win.”

Hunter’s penalty kick put the Cavs ahead for good, securing the regional title. After the game, the team and the fans rushed the field to celebrate.

“It really felt magical,” Selby said. 

Throughout the entire season, the players believed that they could win the title despite the doubt from outside Clover Hill. Johnson considers this year’s team to be among the best in school history. 

“[We have] an amazing back line that makes being a goalie easy, as well as incredible scorers to help put the game away,” Johnson said. “We have the talent and the chemistry to be the champs that we are.”

He believes that their hard work is the reason they were able to upset both Deep Run and previously unbeaten number one seeded Douglas Freeman, who they beat in the regional semifinals.

“We won the game because of our hard work in practice,” Johnson said. “We won the game because of our determination to be great. We won the game because we trust ourselves as well as one another.”

Campo agrees that the team’s determination and chemistry propelled them to win the region with 12 overall wins after finishing with only four wins last year. 

  “I think that the family we created in the team also helped us pull together to perform much [better] than expected,” Campo said. 

Now, the Cavs have their sights set on their next goal: winning the state championship.

“We understand that we will be going up against some of the best players in the state and it will not be an easy challenge,” Campo said. “We plan to leave everything out on the field and will definitely be coming home happy, no matter the results.”

They will play their first game of the class 5 state tournament at home on June 7 against region 5D runner-up Riverside. It will be a quarterfinal matchup, and the game begins at 6:30. Johnson believes that the team will continue to play with the same intensity and passion that earned them the regional title. 

“You can expect us to play hard just as we always have. You’ll be able to see the true Cavalier spirit all across the field.”