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Region I Boys Soccer: Tigers, lightning combine to end Cougars’ season

BY ADAM HIMMELSBACH

The Courtland boys soccer team’s season ended in a classroom on Tuesday night.

The Cougars’ Region I quarterfinal against Tabb had been stopped with four minutes left because of lightning.

The Tigers were leading 3–0, and their imminent victory was briefly delayed. As the skies went from blue to black, the fans emptied the bleachers, and both teams retreated to the high school.

The Tigers went to a locker room, and the Cougars sat at desks in a health classroom.

About 10 minutes later, Courtland athletic director Ronnie Lowman announced over the loudspeaker that the game had been called. Cheers could be heard from the Tabb locker room, and the Courtland players were silent.

They understood the decision, but the reality sunk in that their season was over.

“Unless you’re a state champion, you’re gonna lose at some point,” Courtland coach Kevin Berry said. “But we felt like we didn’t give them our best shot tonight.”

The Cougars were surprised by their sluggishness, especially given the opponent.

Last season, Courtland entered the regional tournament with a perfect record, and Tabb rode a bus from York County to Spotsylvania County and stunned the Cougars in a quarterfinal.

Tuesday night’s game was supposed to be Courtland’s juicy opportunity for a rematch, for revenge.

But this year’s game ended much like last year’s game: with the Cougars stoic and the Tigers stoked.

“We didn’t come out with the same intensity we had in the district tournament,” Courtland co-captain Andrew Oakes said. “I think we were a little nervous knowing the result from last year.”

Tabb lost nine seniors from last season, but head coach Scott Kuhnle said veterans like Reilly Maw made sure the younger players were aware of what happened here a year ago.

“They were definitely talking to the boys,” Kuhnle said. “They were saying, ‘Hey, we’ve done this before, we’re used to the way they play and we know what we’re up against.’”

Courtland had no answer for Maw, Tabb’s tall and athletic striker, who scored all three of his team’s goals.

Maw’s first tally came in the sixth minute, when he received a through ball from Dillon Jansen and approached Courtland keeper Seth Yurgel.

As Yurgel left the net to attempt a tackle, Maw slid a shot inside the right post.

Courtland nearly answered one minute later, as Christian Santos drilled a shot from the top of the penalty box that was punched away. Jacob Patterson sprinted in for the rebound, but his offering sliced wide left.

In the 33rd minute, Maw completed a well-timed give-and-go with Jacob Quesenbury, making it 2–0.

Courtland began to build toward several scoring chances, but whenever it was time for the last pass or the perfect shot, opportunity vanished.

Berry said the Cougars might have been fatigued after playing district tournament games on back-to-back nights last week. But he was mostly surprised that his team was not more crisp.

“Our touches were just a step or two off all night,” Berry said. “I would have liked to have played them giving them our best shot.”

Maw gave his team a 3–0 lead when he broke free down the middle in the 67th minute, and the game was stopped because of lightning soon after.

Despite its loss last night, Courtland looked back on a successful season. The Cougars won the Battlefield District’s regular-season and tournament titles, all while adjusting to the new scheme of Berry, their first-year coach.

“It’s been a great season and I’ve had fun with every single one of these guys,” Oakes said. “They’re like brothers, so it’s really sad to end it.”

Adam Himmelsbach: 540/374-5442

ahimmelsbach@freelancestar.com

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