Make no mistake. It wasn’t revenge that Western Albemarle boys soccer was after Thursday night against Charlottesville. It was a reckoning — a reckoning with themselves.
“We got embarrassed by them the last time we played them,” said Western coach Milo Oakland. “We made sure this game was not about points for the region or about the postseason or anything, it was about redemption for ourselves. We felt embarrassed after that game from the coach all the way down. Tonight they played like it, we controlled the game for the first half, we really owned it.”
The Warriors jumped all over the Black Knights from the start and a dominant first half helped propel Western to a signature win, a 3-1 victory over the Black Knights.
“I think this was coming together all season, we were kind of progressing toward this goal,” said Western’s Luke Magargee. “We wanted this one really and it’s good momentum for the playoffs and this game against Albemarle on Saturday.”
The Warriors strung together all three goals in the first half to build a three-goal lead before Campbell Brickhouse snuck one in to get Charlottesville on the board. Western’s first two scores came in workman-like fashion on unsettled situations close into the goal. On the first, pressure created the chance for Magargee to strike.
“Carter (Spilman) played a nice ball into me and then their keeper (Ryan) Herbert made a nice save and Luke followed it in and put it away,” said Western’s Gabe Nafzinger.
The second came when junior striker Noah Adderly cleaned up a scrum in the box off of a corner. Adderly played fantastic throughout up top for the Warriors, a determined performance for the forward.
“Noah is a beast, I can’t tell you how excited I am when I see him get the ball and turn and just attack guys,” Magargee said. “Everybody is scared of him and he has a confidence that has been growing all season so it’s good to see that out there.”
The third goal came 20 seconds after Adderly’s goal on a strike by Margargee off the kickoff. Margargee ran on a ball, took it from a defender and then uncorked a shot from nearly 40 yards out that went over the keeper’s head.
While Magargee scored twice and once in brilliant fashion, Adderly’s play, including a second half that didn’t produce any goals but put all kinds of pressure on the Charlottesville defense through savvy and hustle, was perhaps the biggest revelation for the Warriors in the critical win.
“I hope this is a coming out moment for him, he’s never played this many minutes, we’ve never asked this much of him but I’ve also never seen him play that well,” Oakland said. “He’d come off the field and I’d realize I didn’t want him off, we’d get him back in. He really answered the bell.”
With Western holding that 3-1 advantage after Brickhouse’s header goal in the wake of a Deo Magar cross, both teams’ defenses took over, making a series of huge stops and saves during the second half as the Warriors tried to lock in defensively. Along with keeper Jack Frey making a series of clutch shots, two-time all-state defender Jed Strickland’s return to the backline after an injury kept him out against Monticello Wednesday gave Western a big spark.
“Jed is everything, we can be honest,” Oakland said. “He not only wins a bunch of headers and tackles and everything but also makes everyone feel so much more calm with just his presence alone.”
Charlottesville’s early game performance was particularly surprising as they suffered just their second loss of the season in the regular season finale for the Black Knights. While Brickhouse broke through, Charlottesville couldn’t ever really find the form that gave them a spark in their 2-0 win over Western earlier this season.
“We just came out flat, people were holding the ball too long and ball movement was slow and predictable while Western was up for it,” said Charlottesville coach Stephan Cost. “They made us look like we were a pedestrian team. I never say losing is good but that has to wise us up for what’s coming, we’ve got to be prepared for that.”
The Warriors will face Albemarle Saturday in another grudge match that’ll give them a chance to avenge an earlier season loss while Charlottesville gets pointed at the Class 4, Region D tournament that will likely start Wednesday. The Black Knights will likely be the tournament’s No. 2 seed behind top-ranked Blacksburg.