A betting man would probably pick the district 5-AAA champs Walker Valley (8-4, 5-0) over the district 5-A champs CSAS (8-4-1, 4-0), but Monday night the small school Patriots came out on top in a hard-fought battle.
The 1-0 CSAS victory came on a rocket of a shot to the far post by attacking midfielder Avery Hardekopf in the 61st minute.
Both teams played aggressively with consistent pressure on the ball as predicted before the game by CSAS Coach David Poss in his comment that the game should provide "great competition to get ready for the district tournament." Although there are probably a few bruises and scrapes on both sides, thankfully no serious injuries appeared to transpire for either team as both prepare to host their districts.
At the end of the scoreless first half, Walker Valley seniors, their parents, and Coach Tom Bayless took the field for senior night. The group of impressive young men - Sam McDonald, Sam Gruber, Luke Arntz, Caleb Grannon, Jose Sebastian and Alex Creswell - announced their plans to all pursue a college degree with many of them planning to study engineering. After the game, coach Bayless thankfully noted the chance to "honor the seniors."
CSAS's defense recorded its fourth straight clean sheet due in no small part to the play of holding midfielder Ben Harrison. Ben's ability to gain possession of the ball and then control it until he quickly finds the best pass to maintain possession has proven critical in CSAS's defensive success.
Coach Poss was especially thrilled with the play of his backup goalie, Saylor Rudder, who in preparation for tournament play got the nod to join the starting unit for the whole second half. Coach Poss smiled as he said, "Our backup goalie did a tremendous job in a tough situation, but after his first save I knew he was up to it.": This was especially good news since Saylor had missed most of the beginning of the season with a broken toe and had only returned to play JV games in the last few weeks. His greatest moment came in the 68th minute when Walker Valley ripped a dangerous shot from inside the box only to be stopped by a one-handed saved that was then briskly swept off the line by defender Mason Hopkins helping to insure the win.
CSAS senior captain Ben Greenwell summed up the feelings of his teammates in this David versus Goliath battle of champions, "It was a really tough game, and it was great to come out ahead."