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All-Area Boys Soccer: Eagles’ Roberts rewarded for trust
By ADAM HIMMELSBACH
The Colonial Forge boys soccer team’s magical run to the Group AAA state title game was almost snuffed out before it even started.
One of the most important moments of the Eagles’ surprising season took place in a car, as the Eagles’ three captains drove home from an indoor game last winter.
Senior midfielders Zack Miller and Tim Clancy were eagerly talking about the upcoming season. But Kevin Roberts was less enthusiastic.
He had told his friends and his family that he would not play this year. He said his junior season—in which the Eagles lost in the first round of the district tournament—had been mostly forgettable.
After all, Roberts said, he had already committed to play for George Mason University next year, so there was no need to impress college scouts.
Roberts’ mother, Shavaun, was stunned and upset by her son’s change of heart. She pestered him about as much as a mother can pester before backing off and just hoping he would return.
She knew his teammates would be more convincing, anyway. And in the car ride that night, they were.
“They were like, ‘Dude, we’re going to be so good, and it’s not going to be like last year,’” Roberts recalled. “They said it would be completely different, and they were pretty believable. I trusted them, and I tried out.”
And now, months after that important conversation, Roberts cannot imagine what it would have been like to watch this season from the bleachers.
He transformed from a capable distributor into the area’s most dominant player, and he was part of an immensely talented team that he will never forget.
Roberts, who controlled play in the central midfield for the Eagles as they marched to their first state title game, has been named The Free Lance–Star’s player of the year.
“I honestly didn’t think I’d play this year,” Roberts said. “I was so mad from the year before, but now I’m so glad I came back. I’m so glad I had people like my mom and my friends to wake me up and make me realize I had to do this, and do it right.”
Roberts finished the season with 11 goals and nine assists and was named the player of the year in both the Commonwealth District and the Northwest Region.
But most importantly, he guided Colonial Forge through its most memorable season in school history.
“This year he took a lot on his shoulders and I think he grew a lot as a leader,” said Colonial Forge girls soccer coach Bronson Gambale, who also served as an assistant with the boys team. “He took the responsibility of being a captain very seriously.”
Roberts grew up in San Diego and started playing soccer when he was 4. He preferred to play against older, more talented players to develop his skills.
When he was 12, his family moved to Morgantown, W. Va., Roberts dominated a league there and realized he wanted to play against a higher level of competition, so he convinced his parents to drive him to Pittsburgh four times a week—an hour each way—to play for an elite travel team there.
“It made me realize that making sacrifices was something I needed to do if I wanted to be really good,” Roberts said.
The Roberts family moved to Stafford County before Kevin’s freshman year at Colonial Forge. Roberts made the varsity soccer team that year and started as a defensive midfielder.
He made noticeable strides over his first three seasons, but this year was unlike the others.
“I wanted to do big things,” Roberts said. “I was more motivated than ever before.”
In past years, he had served mainly as a distributor, and this year started similarly. But after Colonial Forge suffered early losses against Brooke Point and Massaponax, Roberts changed his approach.
“From then on, I knew I had to put myself in the best position to score,” Roberts said. “I had a more aggressive mentality toward getting the ball and putting it into the net.”
Roberts led Colonial Forge to the Commonwealth District’s regular season and tournament crowns. The Eagles then defeated First Colonial and Thomas Dale in the state tournament before falling to Albemarle in the final.
Still, the blemish on the season’s final day did not diminish what came before it.
“I think the whole season is going to be one big, great memory,” Roberts said. “I’m just proud of what we did.”
And he is so happy he decided to be a part of it all.
Adam Himmelsbach: 540/374-5442