By Dan Stillwell
Register-Herald Sports Writer
Before the first practice of the season, PikeView boys soccer coach Bill Hopkins gave his team T-shirts that read, “Our goal is the state championship game. Nov. 9, 2013. Get your tickets now.”
“By the middle of the season, they started believing,” Hopkins said.
Today, it’s not just a goal. It’s a fact.
The Panthers defeated Robert C. Byrd 2-0 Friday to move into today’s Class AA-A final against East Fairmont.
Seth Wood scored a goal in the 23rd minute, then added to his total on a rebound in the 67th minute.
The PikeView defense bent, but did not break, holding the Eagles to three shots on goal. Keeper Austin Cordell saved all three.
“There was a lot of pride out there today,” Hopkins said. “I’m proud of the guys.”
Wood’s first goal, off a Brandon Calfee pass, was a lob from 20 feet out over RCB keeper Justin Welling.
“I was trying to get it in there and set the tone,” Wood said. “If the opportunity is there to take a good shot, I’ll take it.”
The second goal came after Alex Van Blaricom ripped a shot that bounced out of Welling’s hands.
Wood raced in and pounded it into the back of the net.
“I really wanted a goal tonight, but Seth always has my back,” Van Blaricom said.
While Wood found paydirt on two of three shots on goal, RCB’s Jeremy Bell couldn’t buy a goal.
One shot sailed the ball high over the net. His next try hit the crossbar and bounced out. A third banged off a post.
“It just didn’t seem like it was my night,” Bell said.
Coach T.J. Hill said his team had opportunities, just couldn’t score.
“It seemed we were a step late or an inch high,” he said. “As the game went on you start thinking, ‘How unlucky can you be in one night?’”
Of course, the PikeView defense had something to say about it.
“We had Payden Cutlip aware of Bell, and we marked Chaz Rodeheaver with Vaughn Campbell,” Hopkins said. “Bell is quick and relentless, and Rodeheaver is a very skilled player.
“When Bell hit the post after hitting the crossbar, I turned to (assistant coach) Corbett Calfee and said, ‘It’s our game.’”
The Panthers will take on East Fairmont, a 1-0 winner over four-time defending champion Charleston Catholic in the other semifinal, 30 minutes following the conclusion of the AA-A girls title match with Sissonville and Bridgeport. That game starts at 11 a.m. at Carter Family Foundation Stadium.