GLEN ALLEN, Va. — When asked in early April what he wanted out of this season, Oakton boys’ soccer Coach Ralph Perkins thought about regret. He knew his team was very good, thanks in part to the 15 seniors on his roster. He knew they had a chance to do something special.
“I don’t want anyone to walk off the field at the end of the year and say, ‘Oh, I wish we could’ve done this or that,’ ” Perkins said then. “I don’t want them to leave anything on the field.”
On Saturday, the Cougars walked off the field for the last time following a 2-1 loss in the Virginia Class 6 championship game to Cosby at Glen Allen High. If they had regrets, they came from a lifeless first half. The second half showcased the Cougars that ran through the season without a loss, but the rally fell short.
“In the first half, I said, ‘You’re leaving things on the field,’ ” Perkins said. “But in the second half they didn’t leave anything on the field. Each and every one of them has something to be proud of.”
The top-ranked Cougars came into this final 19-0-2, champions of the Concorde District and the D region. On Friday, they topped Stuart, 1-0, in extra time for a spot in the finals, a win that included no shortage of missed opportunities.
After Cosby scored twice early, Oakton’s urgency grew. The Cougars had trouble gaining possession to finish the first half. But in the second half they dominated play and earned several good looks at goal. Senior midfielder Bryan Silver made several forays into the box, defender Masaru Furushio Maegushiko ripped a curling free kick, and forward Nick Berten had a close look. But Wyatt Kistner, Cosby’s keeper, kept his team on top with a rock-solid performance. When Silver finally found the back of the net in stoppage time, it was clearly too late.
“We’ve come back from all kinds of things,” Silver said. “But these guys are a phenomenal team. They had the first half, we had the second half.”
The Cougars’ knack for escaping disaster — which included erasing a 2-0 deficit in the playoffs to beat Washington-Lee in extra time, outlasting Yorktown in penalty kicks and topping West Potomac and Stuart by one goal — finally evaporated.
Perkins knows the coming offseason will be a tough one for the program because of what he will be losing to graduation. At 34 players, Oakton’s roster is the largest in the area. So when Perkins finished his postgame speech Saturday, he took a few minutes to give each player a hug.