For the past five years, the Westview boys soccer team had watched someone else celebrate a sectional championship on its home field.
The Warriors were determined not to let that happen again.
Spurred on by a gritty performance from senior goaltender Tarrin Beachy, Westview edged county rival Lakeland, 2-1 in a penalty-kick shootout to claim its first sectional crown since 2008.
“It’s been a long time,” said Warrior head coach Dennis Berkey on his club’s recent sectional drought. “We knew Lakeland would play us tough because they always do.”
The two teams were tied at the end of 80 minutes, thus forcing a pair of seven-minute overtime sessions. When the rivals remained deadlocked after those 14 minutes, a penalty-kick shootout was needed to determine the champion.
“Nobody likes to win a match with a shootout, but it’s much worse to lose one because of it,” stated Berkey.
After the first three rounds in the shootout, the teams remained tied, 2-2. And when the Warriors’ fourth kicker Jacob Berkey pushed his attempt wide of the net, the advantage went to Lakeland.
Enter Beachy who, by his coach’s admission, did not have the best of seasons. “He had been shaky at times this year, but he and coach (Chase) Jones worked very hard these past couple of weeks and you could see a lot of improvement.”
Beachy stopped the Lakers’ fourth shooter Eric Carmona to keep the shootout knotted at 2-all. Jaron Lewton then beat Lakeland keeper Marco Olivares to open the fifth and final round, putting Westview one Beachy save away from the title.
The lanky, 6-3 Beachy turned away the drive of Eduardo Luna to secure the Warriors’ title.
Both squads had several good chances to score in the opening half and did not capitalize on any of them. But early in the second half, Lakeland forward Dustin Cunningham took a pin-point pass from Nick Byler and rocketed a shot just inside the far post to give the Lakers a 1-0 lead.
“We came out a little flat in the first half and wanted to play with more energy in the second half,” said Lakeland skipper Jesse Ward. “I thought we dominated play at the start of the second half, but lost our aggressiveness toward the end.”
The Lakers were still on top as the match entered the final 20 minutes of regulation time. Then a play that local soccer fans will talk about for a long time took place with 17:23 left.
Jacob Berkey launched a corner kick toward the Lakeland net. Olivares appeared to have a bead on the shot, but the ball slipped through his grasp and landed in the goal mouth. After some discussion, the officials determined that the ball had crossed the goalline, resulting in a Warrior score and a tied game.
“That was a big call for the referee to make,” said Ward. It changed the whole momentum of the match. I thought we were the better team until then.”
The loss ended the Lakers’ season with an 11-6-2 record. “I am so proud of our team,” said Ward. “They really came around toward the middle of the season and finished the year with seven shutout wins. Offensively, defensively and with the way Marco (Olivares) played in goal, we were as well-rounded a team as we could be.”
For the 12-6-1 Warriors, a date against