BECKLEY, W.Va. — A long road about to meet its end.
The Point Pleasant boys soccer team defeated the Herbert Hoover Huskies 2-0 in the semifinals of the WVSSAC Class A-AA Boys State Tournament Friday morning.
This was the program’s first state semifinal win, after coming up short in a penalty shootout against Charleston Catholic in the semfinals of last year’s tournament.
The Black Knights (22-1-2) maintained control of the offense throughout much of the first half, making use of quick passes and deep crosses to keep the ball away from the Huskies (18-4-3).
The place they struggled with initially was getting their shots on target, making only one shot on goal in the early minutes of the first half.
However, as the minutes wore on they did find a couple more shots hit inside the box, but they were all saved by Husky goalie Gabe Deel.
The Black and Red defense held stout throughout the first half, keeping Hoover from getting any shots on goal.
As the whistle blew for halftime, juniors Colton Young, Wesley Lee and Brooks Gilley all had shots on the Husky goal.
With no Husky shots in the first half, that meant sophomore keeper Brecken Louden had no saves.
The Black Knights started the second half with a feeling of urgency, peppering the Hoover goal with shots, but still not getting any past the goalie.
That all changed 14 minutes into the second half when Young got a short pass from junior Ian Wood and kicked the ball into the back of the net.
Even with a lead, Point Pleasant didn’t let their play get sloppy.
Although the Huskies did manage to sneak in a couple shots on their goal, they never gave control of the game away.
The Black Knights added onto their lead when senior Nick Cichon-Ledderhose let his reputation as a sniper do the talking, knocking a shot from beyond the box into the top-right corner of the Husky goal with 11 minutes to go.
From there, the Black Knight defense clamped down on Hoover, keeping them from making another shot and sealing the win.
There was a 3-way tie for most shots for the Black and Red, with Ledderhose, Young and junior Kanaan Abbas getting two shots each.
For the Huskies, Elliott Chandler and Bryson Beaver each had a shot, giving Louden two saves for Friday’s game.
Deel ended up having nine total saves for the Huskies.
Black Knight head coach Chip Wood summed up the feeling he and his team had after the win in one word: excitement.
“This is the first time in program history we’ve had a chance at a state title, so we’re really excited about that,” he said. “In all honesty, any nervousness I had was gone by Tuesday. Getting here was the most stressful part.”
Wood also talked about how his team’s style of play was what gave them the victory over the Huskies.
“We scouted whoever we knew they played up the middle, and we really felt like we could use our wings and use the width of the field to keep the ball,” he said. “We just needed to get shots on goal.”
The Black Knights will be back in action at 9:30 a.m. Saturday when they play the Charleston Catholic Irish to determine who takes home the WVSSAC Class A-AA Boys Soccer State Championship.
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Colton Jeffries can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.