By J. Daniel Rollins
Register-Herald Sports Writer
It’s often said it’s not how you start the game, but how you finish.
The same could be said of the Woodrow Wilson boys soccer team Tuesday, which defeated Shady Spring 2-0 in its final regular season match of the campaign.
Woodrow went into the half scoreless with Shady, knowing something had to be done.
Despite controlling the field for much of the half, the Flying Eagles couldn’t seem to toe the ball into the net, despite several chances.
“We were down at the half,” Woodrow Wilson midfielder Colton Hatfield said of his team’s mood. “We weren’t playing very well. We knew whoever got that first goal would determine how the rest of the game went.”
Hatfield was right.
In the 55th minute of a scoreless match, the Flying Eagles forced a corner kick. That’s when the magic happened.
“The ball just kind of came back out to me,” Hatfield added. “I had a good touch on it, hoping it was going to hit someone.”
Hit someone it did.
Hatfield fired the ball into the box, finding Jacob Hughes in front of the net, who put his right foot on the ball and sent it sailing past Shady Spring keeper Jonathan Beckett to put Woodrow up 1-0.
“It hit Jacob, which was good,” Hatfield said. “He had been trying to have me get him a goal all year. He was pretty excited.”
Hughes wasn’t the only Flying Eagle who was excited. The goal fired up the Woodrow offense, who spent the majority of the second half attacking the Tiger defense. It was only a matter of time before the magic would happen once again.
Hatfield picked up his second assist of the match on a corner kick, this time finding the head of Zack Johnson, who buried it past Beckett to give the Flying Eagles a 2-0 advantage later in the match.
“I just kicked it in,” Hatfield said. “It looked like it hit Ryan Thompson’s toe and the deflection hit directly on (Johnson’s) head. It was just kind of luck.”
Hatfield finished the match with a pair of assists, lifting the Flying Eagles to their 10th victory of the season.
“Colton does a good job,” Woodrow coach Rocky Powell said. “We bring him in for the corner kicks and he places the ball really well.
“We played really well in the second half,” Powell added. “We possessed the ball and moved the ball a little bit better than we did the first half. We kind of stood around and didn’t do real well early.”
It was a victory that left the longtime Woodrow Wilson coach beaming following the match.
“It’s always good to finish up your regular season with a win and get some momentum built heading into the sectional,” Powell said.
If Woodrow is to advance to the state tournament in November, it would create a unique home field advantage. The tournament will be played at the YMCA Paul Cline Memorial Youth Sports Complex in Beckley.
“It’s a great advantage for us,” he added. “To come out here and play in front of your home crowd, ya know, it’s a home field atmosphere. There’s nothing strange about it. They’re able to come out and play and relax and do a good job.”
For Shady Spring, it’s back to the drawing board, in hopes of finding the right chemistry before sectional play begins.
“It was a real tough game. We played well but we didn’t follow our marks to two key corners,” Shady coach Michael Manning said. “Woodrow stepped to the ball a lot better than us tonight. We’ll work on it.”
The Flying Eagles will get a break before taking on Princeton Tuesday, Oct. 22, in the Class AAA Region 3, Section 2 tournament, while Shady returns to action Thursday against Class AA power PikeView.
The Tigers will then take on Greenbrier East Monday in the sectional play-in game.
— E-mail: jrollins@
register-herald.com and follow on Twitter at @JDanielRollins.