Danville falls to Somerset in All ‘A’ Classic

By STEVE CORNELIUS

(Somerset) Commonwealth Journal

SOMERSET — For the second straight year, the Somerset boys’ soccer team claimed the 12th Region All “A” Classic crown with a 5-3 win over Danville on Monday at Clara Morrow Field.

With head coach Tyler Gillum and two other key players out, the homestanding Briar Jumpers overcame a Danville goal in the first minute of play and countered with two early goals of their own in a span of two minutes.

“The game started off real crazy, but what I did like that when we got down 1-0 early, our team came back and scored,” Somerset assistant coach Michael Whitis said. “I told our guys that Danville is going to pass inside-out and they are very well-coached.”

Danville (6-3-1) got on the board first in the first minute of play when freshman Kaleb Wilcher scored a goal off a rebound from a blocked Keegyn Wicher shot attempt.

One minute later, Somerset (5-2-1) responded with the equalizer when freshman Andrew Tomlinson scored off a rebound that was blocked off a Christian Whitis attempt at goal.

Two minutes later, Somerset’s Derek Arias scored from within the penalty box off an Austin Morales assist to put the Jumpers up 2-1.

In the ninth minute, the Admirals came back with the equalizer when freshman Fox Spears scored a goal off a Carter Dilbeck corner kick.

In the 14th minute, the Briar Jumpers retook the lead off an Arias crossing shot from midrange, which was assisted by Morales again. Up 3-2, Somerset never relinquished the lead for the remaining 66 minutes.

In the 31st minute, Arias scored a hat trick off a roller from 10 yards out that took a big hop off the turfed edge of the keeper box and soared over the Danville keeper’s head. Arias’ third goal gave the Jumpers a 4-2 halftime lead.

In the opening half, Somerset’s Henry Lopes-Radilla got off three shot attempts, while Daniel Richardson, Christian Whitis, and Tomlinson got off two failed attempts each. For Danville, Keegan Wilcher, and Iain McAlister had one shot attempt each. Somerset outshot Danville 15 to 5 in the first 40 minutes.

“I wanted to come out and put a little pressure on Danville and get that other goal,” Whitis said. “Having a two-goal lead is the worst lead in soccer. I was nervous, but when Danville got that other goal, we kind of played a little more defensively.”

In the second half, Danville had two shot attempts by Ashton Nash and one each by Dilbeck and Keegyn Wilcher before they finally hit paydirt in the 76th minute. Danville senior Ryan Clarkson scored off a midrange crossing shot aided by an assist from McAlister.

The Admirals were frantic to tie the match in the final minutes of the match until Arias sealed the deal with his fourth goal of the match in the 79th minute. Set up by Ben Godby, Arias nailed a close-range crossing shot to give the Jumpers the 5-3 victory.

“Derek Arias is hard to stop,” Whitis said. “The last two games he has scored seven goals, and before that he had only scored one goal. So you want to talk about coming out of a slump, Derek is definitely out of his slump.

“We were down two players, but everybody stepped up and this was a team win. I am proud of my defense. I am proud of the bench, because they came in and gave us minutes.”

In the second half, Somerset’s Christian Whitis got off two shot attempts, while Tomlinson, Godby, Morales, and Richardson got off one shot each.

Somerset freshman goalkeeper Landen Lonesky had seven saves in the match, with two game-saving blocks. Late in the game, Lonesky fought off a Danville attempt with his feet that was well within the keeper’s box. in the final five minutes of the first half, he leaped high to get his hands on a sure goal at the top crossbar.

“That last save Landen made with his foot was phenomenal, and he made great saves all night,” Whitis said. “He is only a freshman, and he is going to get even better.”