Carroll boys put up valiant effort in playoff soccer loss

Photo by Jerry Carter
                                Carroll County’s soccer team put up a strong effort on the road Thursday in a 1-0 loss to Bassett in a Region 3D playoff game.

Photo by Jerry Carter
Carroll County’s soccer team put up a strong effort on the road Thursday in a 1-0 loss to Bassett in a Region 3D playoff game.

Carroll County’s boys’ soccer team was hosting perennial power Glenvar a few weeks back and the Highlanders finished the first half in a flurry to push their lead to 5-0. The Cavaliers have the misfortune of playing one quarter of their regular season schedule (4 of 16) against two of the best programs in the Commonwealth, Glenvar and Radford.

Trailing by five goals at the half in front of your home fans gave Head Coach Forrest Johnson an opportunity to challenge his team to step up their game. The Cavaliers did just that and they managed to play Glenvar to a 1-1 draw over the final 40 minutes in their 6-1 defeat.

“I have a phrase I like to use with the team and that night during the break I told them they had two choices,” said Johnson. “You can either lay down and get walked all over or you can man up and do something about it.”

CCHS used the game as a springboard, closing the regular season with a 3-0-1 run, highlighted by a Nil-Nil draw with the high flying Maroon Tide at Galax. The team closed out the regular season with a victory over Marion to reach .500 at 7-7-1, earning the sixth seed in the highly contested Region 3D tournament.

Thursday night the Cavaliers traveled over to the Smith River Soccer complex to take the pitch against #3 Bassett High School.

As the crowd arrived, the first thing people noticed was Davis Reitzel wasn’t wearing his normal #13 jersey but was in the net with the keeper jersey on instead. On the road facing a squad that is bigger and quicker and now the team would be playing without their starting keeper against the Bengals.

Bassett would eventually find the back of the net early in the second half on a perfectly-placed shot just inside the far post on its way to a 1-0 victory. The never-cry-Uncle Cavaliers refused to go away quietly despite the uphill battle ahead of them.

“There is so much heart and fight in my Boys,” Johnson added. “They manned up and took ownership down the stretch.”

The lone goal of the match came in the 13th minute of the second half when the Bengals finally bested the Cavaliers defense and took the lead with a shot that was placed in a manner that it couldn’t be defended.

Carroll County continued to try and find the equalizer the remainder of the night, including bringing Reitzel out of the net in the closing ten minutes and placing him back at his normal forward position. The team kept the Bengals on their heels down their stretch but could not score the goal to extend the contest.

The progress that the program made this year inside the talented Three Rivers District can be measured by the Cavaliers splitting the matches with James River, allowing the team to finish in a tie for third place with the Knights. Floyd County doesn’t field a team in the sport and Carroll County swept Alleghany in their home and home matches. Both matches with the Radford Bobcats were one-goal affairs.

Soccer is clearly the sport that is the most difficult to measure success in at the high school level because a match offer comes down to one bounce of a post or one foul in the box. Carroll County has a program on the rise and for 79 minutes and 45 seconds they went toe and toe with a program that has only lost to Tunstall and Magna Vista. One perfectly placed shot at the end of a possession is the difference between your season ending and playing again next week.

Carroll County’s team has taken on the identity of their young head hoach, laser focused on the task at hand. Their season ended Thursday night in what many would consider a moral victory but these Cavaliers are not looking for moral victories. They are chasing actual ones and if you look closely you can see they are closing in on their goals.