By J Daniel Rollins
Register-Herald Sports Writer
When something’s working, why bother changing it?
George Washington did just as it did in its 3-0 regional final victory over Woodrow Wilson, scoring in the first two minutes of the match to take one step closer to their goal of a state championship.
GW’s Drew Davis scored from 20 yards out on a free kick to give the Patriots the 1-0 lead, one they would never relinquish in a Class AAA semifinal win in Friday’s state soccer tournament.
“It was early in the game, and I didn’t think I was going to get it,” Davis said. “I just looked up and the upper-90 was open. I just gave it all I had.”
The remainder of the game was a defensive battle between two teams looking for a berth in the state title game.
“It was a dogfight, man,” George Washington coach Tom Hopper, who was honored before the game with state coach of the year honors, said.
That’s because through the next 78 minutes of action, the Jefferson Cougars’ defense stepped up and shut down the Patriots’ offense, holding them to just the single shot on goal.
Unfortunately for Jefferson, George Washington’s defense held it without a shot.
“We got that one goal, and that was enough,” Hopper said. “It was a very difficult game. I think our opponent played very well. We had very few opportunities, and they had even less.”
Jefferson coach Chris Steffy wasn’t too intimidated by the Patriot defense, one which had held its opponents to only nine goals this season.
“Coming in, I never thought it was going to be a high-scoring game,” Steffy said. “I wanted to jump on them. I’ve heard about their defense. I was bummed that happened. I felt like most of the game we were the best team. I was really bummed that they got on top. We talked a lot about getting on top and pressing them.”
But it was Davis’ goal and the stellar defense that has the Patriots heading back to the state championship, against the team that eliminated them in the semifinals a year ago, Parkersburg.
Davis said he and his teammates aren’t worried about past results.
“It’s in the past,” Davis said. “We’ve just got to keep going. We only have one more game.”
It will be the third matchup between the Patriots and the Big Reds this season. George Washington won the previous two, both by 2-1 scores.
“I think back to last year when they knocked us off in the semis,” Hopper said. “It will be interesting. We’ll see what happens.”
George Washington keeper Garrett Phillips knows that as long as his defense is playing well — and communicating — they can be victorious.
“We’re going on the defensive side. We just do our best to talk to each other as much as we can,” he said. “It’s a comfort and luxury knowing I can trust my defense. We don’t give up many goals, and Parkersburg scores a lot. Something’s got to give.”
— E-mail: jrollins
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