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BOYS SOCCER: Chargers’ bid gets halted

LYNCHBURG—At coach Mike Webb’s request, Chancellor’s boys soccer players lined up two by two behind him and walked through the bleachers at Liberty University on Friday.

Webb had one reason for the postgame march.

“I told them, ‘We’re going to walk out of here proudly. We’re not embarrassed by how we played today. We played hard,’” Webb said after the Chargers’ 2–0 season-ending loss to Midlothian in the 4A state semifinals.

Webb huddled his players and spoke at length after the game’s final whistle. He wanted them to not lose sight of what they accomplished this season.

Though upset about losing, the players knew.

“Back when the preseason started, I don’t think anybody thought we’d ever make it this far,” Chancellor senior back Nolan Bonner said. “We did think we’d be going to states, but I don’t think we ever really seriously considered the possibility, and we’re here. We made it.

“It’s a testament to how hard we worked, because we weren’t always the most talented team, but all throughout the year we were the team that worked the hardest.”

The Chargers (18–2–1) made their first trip to the state playoffs since 2006 and their first state semifinal appearance since 2003, but their season ended with consecutive losses in the 4A North Region title game and the state semis.

Midlothian (19–1–1) will take on Loudoun County in today’s championship game at 4 p.m. at Liberty.

“We’re 18–2–1 and our two losses are going to be to the state champion and the state runner-up no matter how it works out. That’s a hell of a season,” Webb said. “You’re conference champion and got to the region finals. Nobody gave us a chance to be 18–2–1. I mean, I’m not really sure if anybody picked us to win our conference.”

The Trojans’ two goals came two minutes apart midway through the first half. Sophomore midfielder Connor Rea blasted a shot from about 25 yards away that settled in the back right corner of the goal for a 1–0 lead, and then senior striker Matt Szucs made it 2–0 with another long strike.

That was all Midlothian needed, as Chancellor found it hard to produce any offense for the second straight game.

The Trojans outshot the Chargers 10–3, and Chancellor was shut out for the second straight game.

“It was hard to get open because their two center backs are big guys,” Chancellor senior striker Cameron Williams said. “We couldn’t really get past. We lost the ball too much in the midfield.”

Williams is one of five seniors the Chargers graduate from this year’s team. A lot of talented underclassmen, including Conference 22 player of the year Gabriel Soriano, return next season to try to make a return trip to the state playoffs.

“It was sad because we lost, but I think we came out with a lot of honor to ourselves because we just battled and battled,” Soriano said.

“This year’s success is going to be tomorrow’s expectations for us.”

Nathan Warters: 540/374-5442