Jonathan Hardman got quite a present on his 16th birthday.
The Oak Hill High School sophomore slammed a penalty kick into the left side of the net to give the Red Devils a 1-0 upset victory over Princeton Senior High on Tuesday night in the Class AAA, Region 3, Section 2 tournament semifinals at the Princeton soccer stadium.
It was set up when a lightning-like strike into the box from Oak Hill’s Jacob Kemlock glanced off the elbow of a Princeton defender, who was whistled for a “hand ball.”
Hardman said that when he prepared to fire off the PK, “I knew that this is the easiest chance I’m going to have to score.”
The first and only goal of the game “was a huge relief,” Hardman said. “Last year we got knocked out of the sectionals early. This was redemption.”
Kyle Kent, the first-year coach of Oak Hill (5-9-2), said, “Players with time make plays. Players under pressure are going to make mistakes.”
The game turned into a violent match full of twists and turns, tackles and turnovers. Officials’ whistles stopped play at least half a dozen times in each half.
One yellow card was assessed, with 33:30 remaining, on Oak Hill’s Austin Nolen for a hard tackle on Princeton’s Chance Shrewsbury.
Princeton (11-6-1) had beaten Oak Hill 2-1 and 3-1 earlier this month, and the two teams had also scouted each other during a preseason Kick-o-Rama in Princeton.
Princeton head coach Steve Bailey said about Oak Hill, “They’re a good team. ... They played us tough, both times we played. The guys all knew that, knew it wouldn’t be easy.”
Princeton senior Austin Smith said, “We knew Oak Hill was coming in to play. We knew it’d be an intense game. They came out early and put some shots on goal and pressured us.”
“Just that PK, they got that one call that changed the momentum of the game.”
“We came in with no expectations,” Kent said. “I told the boys it doesn’t matter if the score is 7-6, 10-0 or 1-0, it means you’re going on in the tournament.”
He said the conclusion of the season “was much different, and it’s all because of the teamwork,” Kent said. “It took a time to come around. It was a growing, adjusting (period), of them getting used to the way Oak Hill is going to play the game.”
Hardman said, “We’re starting to play as a team, not being selfish, passing the ball. We’re playing soccer the way it should be played.”
Also this week:
Midland Trail 2
James Monroe 0
The Midland Trail Patriots (10-8-2) shut out James Monroe Tuesday to advance to the girls championship game in Region 3 Section 1, where they’ll play Pocahontas County Thursday at 6 p.m. at the YMCA Paul Cline Memorial Youth Sports Complex.
Hannah Legg and Heaven Simms scored the goals for the Patriots, while Molly Sevy picked up the only assist.
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