Raiders end Falcons' season in overtime
The realization that their dream season had come to an end was as abrupt and heartbreaking as Liam Weaver’s overtime goal.
That gave Pembroke Hill a 2-1 Class 3 state quarterfinal win over coach Jesus Rodriguez’s Van Horn Falcons Tuesday night at Swope Soccer Village.
Trailing 1-0 with just more than 15 minutes to play in regulation, the Falcons knotted the score at 1-all as Tony Chavira took the ball in front of the net off a corner kick and slipped it past Raiders goalkeeper Johnathon Dickey.
“I thought that gave us some momentum, the chance to take control of the game,” Rodriguez said after his 20-5 team saw its season come to an end. “But we just couldn’t get the ball in the net.
“I still don’t know how their goalie stopped that shot by Edison (Rios, the Falcons All-American forward). That was as good of a play as you could ever see.”
Rodriguez was referring to a shot Rios took in the 55th minute from a far left angle that Dickey dove to his right and slapped away from the net.
“That stop belongs to coach Ian Hodge, who has been working with me all season,” said Dickey, whose father David, older brother Alex and sister Emily all played in goal for the Raiders. “I don’t make that save without him spending so many extra hours with me.
“But that’s what this team is all about – spending the extra time to become the type of team that can beat a great team like Van Horn. This was a complete team win.”
The Raiders took a 1-0 lead on a shot by Cole Garrett with just 30 seconds left in the first half.
“We had to recover from that at halftime, and I think we did,” Rodriguez said. “I thought we had a lot of momentum in the second half, but they had an answer for most of our shots on goal. Then, in overtime, No. 17 (Weaver) got beyond our defense and scored.”
Weaver refused to take credit for the goal, praising teammate Corbin Bodamer, whose deft pass was pinpoint perfection.
“All I had to do was tap it into the net,” said Weaver, who was greeted by family and friends as he came off the field. “That’s the beauty of soccer. This was a really good soccer game. We got the lead, they tied up the game and we found a way to win in overtime.”
Pembroke Hill coach Matt Pritchett had praise for both teams.
“Liam got the perfect pass, was able to get behind their defense and score that goal in overtime,” Pritchett said after his team improved to 12-6 and advanced to Saturday’s state semifinal against Cape Girardeau Notre Dame. “We got great play in the net from Dickey – who is part of a real family tradition at Pembroke Hill. He was great in the net tonight and so was their keeper (Cooper Sumpter).”
When asked about shutting down Rios, the all-state forward, the coach had a ready answer.
“The past two games, we have played teams with similar players – not quite as talented as Rios, but similar – and we used those two games as preparation for tonight,” Pritchett said. “We would sag off Rios, then play him tight when he got the ball, and he got off a couple of great shots but we managed to keep him off the scoreboard, which was huge.
“That’s a great team with a great coach and a lot of very, very good players.”