By Dan Stillwell
Register-Herald Sports Writer
PikeView boys soccer coach Bill Hopkins had a feeling whoever scored first in the Class AA-A state championship game with East Fairmont would win.
“I was afraid to watch the clock,” he said. “You knew somebody was going to squeeze one through, and that would be it.”
Fortunately for Hopkins, his Panthers did exactly that.
Isaac Van Blaricom banged in a header in the 64th minute to give PikeView a 1-0 victory over East Fairmont in the Class AA-A state championship game Saturday at the YMCA’s Carter Family Foundation Stadium.
Bees keeper Brett Metheny had made a superb save of an earlier Van Blaricom shot.
But this time Metheny was helpless as Van Blaricom was left wide open in the middle of the box.
“I saw Vaughn making a run down the sideline, and for some reason, I wasn’t marked at all,” Van Blaricom said. “He played the ball across and (the shot) felt good.
“Their keeper is phenomenal. I’m glad he didn’t get that one.
“This has been my dream since I was a little kid.”
Fourth-ranked PikeView (20-4-1) was making its first appearance in a state championship game, and was coming off a 2-0 win over No. 8 Robert C. Byrd Friday night.
No. 3 East Fairmont (16-5-3) had beaten four-time defending champion Charleston Catholic 1-0 in two overtimes in the other semifinal.
“We hoped they would be dead tired, but they didn’t show it,” Hopkins said. “You’re on adrenaline all the time. It’s all on heart here. There’s no tomorrow. You leave it on the field.”
It was rough — both teams were called for 13 fouls — but it was a well-played game. The Bees had used their physical play to their advantage in the win over No. 1 Charleston Catholic, but were now faced with a team that was just as physical.
Coach Fred Roman acknowledged that the semifinal game had taken its toll on the Bees.
“I’m not using it as an excuse, but everybody saw a beat-up team limping around the field,” Roman said. “They gave it their all.”
Playmaker Colin Harvath, a talented sophomore who ran the show at midfield, agreed with his coach.
“I was a little beat up, but I still had momentum,” Harvath said.
Both teams had chances. Metheny made a diving save to stop Van Blaricom about 15 minutes into the contest. His opposite number, Austin Cordell, rose to the occasion later in the half to snare a James Bolander direct kick that had “goal” written all over it.
Each team also had several shots to bounce off the posts or the crossbar.
Cordell finished with four keeper saves. Ironically, he almost didn’t come out for soccer this year.
“I didn’t want to play, but I knew I’d regret it,” he said. “They talked me into playing. Thank God I played.”
Cordell avoided a late 1-on-1 confrontation with a driving Harvath when Campbell, who played both defender and wing, raced in to stab the ball away.
“It was a well-played game between two very physical teams,” Roman said. “The ref told us before the game there would be a winner and a loser. I think he was wrong. Both teams were winners today.
“You saw two great teams worthy of a state championship game.”
— E-mail: dstillwell@