RADFORD, Va. — With his team on its heels after a pair of quick Jamestown goals in Saturday’s Virginia AA boys’ soccer title game, Tuscarora Coach Dave Gryder wasn’t quite sure what the final 74 minutes might hold for his young squad. But faced with an unfamiliar situation on a new stage, the second-year squad with just one senior bounced back.
Junior Angel Ceron-Garcia scored twice as Tuscarora overcame the rough start, but a late goal by Jamestown sophomore Jon Cullom sent the Huskies to a 4-3 loss at Radford.
“We showed the heart of a champion coming back,” Gryder said. “We came back and were right in it until the end. A couple unfortunate bounces went their way, but we fought all the way.”
Tuscarora (21-3-2) dominated its first eight postseason games — it outscored its opponents 22-2.
This time, Jamestown senior Drew Friedrichs scored on a second-minute header.
Tuscarora’s troubles got worse after Cullom headed in a cross from senior Patrick Kelly four minutes later.
“It kind of put us in shock,” junior captain Ben Ogedegbe said. “We weren’t prepared for that. We just came out kind of flat.”
Ceron-Garcia — the team’s leading scorer with 31 goals in 26 games — led the comeback effort with both of his goals in a three-minute span in the second half.
He touched around a defender at the top of the 18-yard box on the first before burying the shot, and he tied the score at 3 with about 25 minutes left after he ran down a long pass from junior Preston Phillips and forced his way past the goalie.
The Eagles — who ended Tuscarora’s season in the state quarterfinals last spring — provided the answer with Cullom’s goal, a low blast that snuck inside the near post in the 73rd minute.
The Huskies appeared to tie the game a minute later as sophomore Edgar Resendiz’s crossing pass ended up in the net. But the apparent goal was waived off by an offside call.
After his players accepted their second-place medals and watched Jamestown take the championship trophy, Gryder gathered his team near the bench and told them to focus on the positives after advancing two steps farther in the state tournament than they did in their inaugural season.
“I’m really proud of all my teammates,” Ogedegbe said. “We set our sights on the state title, and we came within inches of getting it.”