By Jake Bowling / Scrimmageplaycva.com contributor
It’s hard not to feel like something was taken from Charlottesville’s boys soccer team, even if there’s no real villain to blame.
“We feel like we’re getting robbed of a chance to go back to back,” said senior defender and captain Oliver Barcia. “We don’t get to have our senior night, we don’t get to perform in front of our school one last time representing the Black Knights.”
The Black Knights went on a magical run to the Class 4 state championship a season ago, finishing the year 20-1-1, and going undefeated in the extremely difficult Jefferson District before winning the Region 4D title and Class 4 state title. Twelve seniors led the way, but with two all-state performers and a slew of talent returning to CHS, the boys’ squad had their sights set on another state title.
On Monday their state title defense, along with the class of 2020’s careers, was suddenly cut short due to the cancellation of all schools across Virginia in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The VHSL left the door slightly ajar Tuesday in a statement that said a final decision would wait until May, but with no school the rest of this year the outlook is bleak at best.
Charlottesville moved down from Class 4 to Class 3 this school year, and into the same region as long time rival Western Albemarle, a storied program that happens to be the defending Class 3 state champions. Charlottesville took the season series from Western last year. The two teams played to an early 1-1 draw in April in Crozet, but Charlottesville romped in a 5-0 win over the Warriors in the May rematch. That loss proved to be the spark Western needed to start their respective run in Class 3, the Warriors ripped off eight straight wins on their way to a 4-0 decision over Northside in the Class 3 state title. With two state title defenders in not only the same class and region, but the same district, plus an always awfully good Albemarle team and growing programs at Monticello and Fluvanna, the district was bound to be as interesting as ever this spring.
Barcia was an all-state first team defender a season ago as a junior. The Black Knights’ defense returned two other starters from a team last season that only conceded 17 goals all year. Junior midfielder and recent UVa commit Malcolm Brickhouse was set to lead the offense, along with the other senior captain and Lynchburg commit Said Osman. Osman managed 10 goals and two assists a season ago despite playing defense most of the season.
“It’s crazy how our season just ended like that,” Osman said. “I was really excited to have a senior season and another shot at a state title.”
In total, CHS had six seniors on the roster this year. In addition to the two captains, there was also Jack Dreesen-Higginbotham and Quentin Pfister, two defenders set to play key roles this year. Deo Magar was a talented midfielder who already scored multiple goals in his career, and finally there was Ghislain Ventre, a physical 6-foot-3 forward who would have rounded out the offense.
However, the final memory this year’s team will have will not be all bad. The class of 2020s last official game came last June, when the Black Knights beat previously undefeated Chancellor 2-1 on triple overtime in the state championship. CHS also managed to get in a scrimmage before the cancellation of the season against Spotswood…the only team to beat Charlottesville a season ago. The Black Knights walked away with a 5-0 triumph in that matchup. Said Osman scored 2 goals and had an assist while sophomore Lucas Simpson notched three assists in his first varsity contest. Not a bad start for the defending state champions.
“We didn’t even know that that scrimmage would be our last time playing on that field, so it stings.” Barcia said.
Charlottesville’s future remains bright. Brickhouse will lead a talented 2021 class along with a slew of rising juniors that were expected to play a big role this season.
Although they won’t be able to go out on their own terms, this year’s senior class will go down as one of the most accomplished and decorated in Charlottesville’s history.
Since 2017, the class of 2020’s freshman year, Charlottesville amassed a monster record of 55-7-1, including two district titles, a region title, two appearances in the state final and a state title.
That’s an impressive list in three years, and everyone is left wondering how they would’ve gone out given a fourth.