Source: Ben Spicer - Daily TimesHC Corey Claxon and South Webster players react to their 4-3 win.
WAVERLY – Competition has been something South Webster has embraced all season.
The Jeeps challenged themselves early and often with their out of conference schedule, and those tough matches proved to provide some costly experience down the road.
Having been faced with adversity all season long, trailing 2-0 in the first 10 minutes of the match was no sweat for South Webster on Thursday night. The Jeeps kept their composure on the way to a comeback, as South Webster beat Lynchburg-Clay 4-3 to advance to regionals against Northwest on Wednesday.
“This is exciting,” South Webster head coach Corey Claxon said. “I was really nervous about this game, because Lynchburg, man they have such a good team. I just wasn’t sure going in what would happen.”
Both teams got off to a hot start just seconds into the match. The Jeeps just missed on a header attempt off a throw in 40 seconds after things got started at Waverly.
Then, Lynchburg-Clay had a scoring shot and cashed in when Kyle Luneke showed his speed on the way to scoring a quick goal for the Mustangs in only the second minute of play.
Luneke intercepted a pass from South Webster, then sped in for a score to put Lynchburg-Clay up 1-0 off the rip.
In the 10th minute, Luneke struck again on what was a skirmish for the ball around the net. It looked as though freshman keeper Tanner Voiers had possession of the shot from Luneke, but the ball was kicked in on the ground and ruled a goal.
A quick start had the Mustangs up 2-0, and Voiers was not pleased with the start.
“I was nervous in the first half really bad,” Voiers recalled. “Then coach just kept on telling me calm down, and I finally calmed down and made some saves.”
“I’m mad. I’m slapping the ground, I’m slapping the goal post but the guys just kept telling me keep my head up and I do.”
Voiers put up a valiant effort the rest of the way to allow only one more goal in the final 70 minutes, holding the opposition scoreless for the last 66 minutes of match time.
Down but not out, the Jeeps needed a jolt of energy. Shiloah Blevins was there to give them that burst in the 12th minute when he scored an unassisted goal to cut the deficit to one.
Then, Samuel Holstein tied the score in the 14th minute with an unassisted score of his own.
“We just tried to encourage them on the side, and we talk before games that no matter what you can’t quit,” Claxon said when asked what he told his team after trailing 2-0. “These guys, they just picked each other up and wouldn’t quit and I commend them for doing that.”
The scoring didn’t stop, but this time the shot went in for the opponent. Austin Hilt let Lynchburg-Clay reclaim the lead on a feed from Ethan Garrison just seconds later to put the Mustangs back up 3-2.
Lynchburg-Clay scored that goal on a long throw in, and the South Webster coaching staff was shaking their heads in dismay on the sideline.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Claxon said. “We just didn’t stick with our mark well enough.”
The Jeeps didn’t hang their heads. They had fought back once, and were more than willing to continue the fight to try and tie the score once more.
South Webster would do just that in the 20th minute, when Holstein found Blevins for his second goal of the match to knot the score up at 3-3.
Following that score, Blevins would add his third goal of the contest in the 24th minute, this time on a nice ball from Caleb Cunningham. That score would be the last of the match for either team, as a defensive battle ensued for the remainder of the game.
For Blevins, it was another big time performance in a big match.
“He’s done that in moments throughout the year,” Claxon said. “It really seems like he plays best in the toughest games, and when we needed him the most he stepped up tonight.”
Blevins kept his cool although his team was trailing early, and knew he would need to step up when the Jeeps got in an early hole.
“Through my head, I was thinking we’ve got to get this,” Blevins said. “If they keep going, we’re going to slow down, and I knew if I could put a couple in we would pick up.”
“Defense wasn’t really marking up on through balls, and I was a little bit quicker and got in on them a couple times.”
In the second half, the Mustangs had plenty of chances to even the match, but the defense for South Webster was stone cold.
“Tanner I thought just did a great job in the second half,” Claxon said. “Our defense did such a good job in that second half, we kind of went defensive mode.”
Lynchburg-Clay captured those opportunities in large part due to adjustments the Mustangs made at the half. Lynchburg-Clay caused the Jeeps to play a lot of defense, and limited South Webster’s time of possession.
As a result, the Mustangs had more shot opportunities. Voiers was up to the task of taming Lynchburg-Clay though, and made a multitude of key catches to keep the lead for the Jeeps.
Just two minutes into the second half, Voiers grabbed a header attempt that the Mustangs sent from several yards out.
In the 51st, Voiers prevented another header that was placed perfectly on a corner kick.
“Tanner is a freshman,” Claxon said. “That’s a big job to step in as a freshman, and he kind of gets down on himself when he makes mistakes. He bounced back in the second half and came up with some really big saves that kept us in the lead.”
“He’s learned a lot this year, and we really look forward to what he’s going to do in the future.”
Voiers was at his best when South Webster needed him most, as the keeper kept three shot attempts from finding the back of the net in the final seven minutes.
“I was hoping the offense would keep them down there on the ball on that end, but oh well,” Voiers said. “I made some saves.”
Lynchburg-Clay also missed out wide on a couple other shots in the last remaining 10 minutes, and were unable to tie things up. In a battle down to the final seconds, the Jeeps just had enough to prevail 4-3.
“It’s just pure excitement, I’m just so happy for our team,” Blevins said. “I’m glad that we can go two years back-to-back, losing eight starting seniors [from last year] and just coming back again.”
“Shout out to my boy Dawson [Veach].”
The win for South Webster was big for the school. It was the Jeeps fourth district title in history, and the first time South Webster has won back-to-back district titles.
Next on the agenda for the Jeeps is a date with Northwest, a fellow SOC school who South Webster hasn’t seen this year.
“The SOC is going to win that one,” Claxon said. “We’re both going to represent well, and people have always kind of said I wish you guys played this season, well we’re finally going to get to it.”
“It’s a win for the SOC. Somebody is going to a regional final.”
It will be an interesting match for two teams who are always well prepared and well coached.
“It’s going to be a good game I think,” Voiers said. “Northwest has got a bunch of fast kids, I think it’s going to be about like Lynchburg. It’s going to be a really good game.”
The SOC schools are slated to meet on Wednesday, Nov. 1 at 7 pm on the turf field at Waverly High School.
2nd minute: Kyle Luneke unassisted goal (1-0 LC)
10th minute: Kyle Luneke unassisted goal (2-0 LC)
12th minute: Shiloah Blevins unassisted goal (2-1 LC)
14th minute: Samuel Holstein unassisted goal (2-2)
14th minute: Austin Hilt goal assisted by Ethan Garrison (3-2 LC)
20th minute: Shiloah Blevins goal assisted by Samuel Holstein (3-3)
24th minute: Shiloah Blevins goal assisted by Caleb Cunningham (4-3 SW)
Reach Benjamin Spicer at (502)264-7318 on Twitter @BSpicerPDT or at Facebook.com/ReporterBenSpicer