Beginning September 15, the King’s Warriors hit the “stretch” part of their schedule. While it didn’t help the “win” column, it certainly contributed to the growth and maturity of the team.
On September 15, the King’s Warriors traveled to the Barboursville Soccer Complex to take on Grace Christian School of Huntington. Grace is one of the premier teams in West Virginia. While the younger, smaller Warriors put some fear into the Huntington side the first half, ultimately their size, physicality, and experience proved too much. Eli Blevins drew first blood about 18 minutes in, but the Warriors committed one of soccer’s cardinal sins when they gave up a goal less than 4 minutes before half-time. They were still hanging tough when the second half began, then disaster struck. When a Grace attacker broke through the defense, goalkeeper Jack Spurgin came off his line to make a tremendous save. But in the subsequent collision, he suffered a significant laceration to the head. Bleeding profusely, he had to leave the contest for medical attention; he received 12 stitches later that night at the hospital. Led by Grace Christian’s 8 seniors, the young King’s Warriors could not withstand the barrage without Spurgin in goal. A game that could have ended tied slipped away as a 4-1 loss.
The following weekend was the annual Mt. Mission Challenger Soccer Tournament. The King’s Warriors couldn’t find any traction and very little offense as they tried to match up with the bigger, faster teams. They fell to Mt. Mission 3-1, with Chance Blevins scoring the lone goal. They then lost to Blueridge Christian School, from Bridgewater, VA, and Bluegrass United Soccer Club, KY, by identical scores of 3-0.
Next up was perennial rival Oak Hill Academy. This was a rare home game for the King’s Warriors, and they dominated much of the match, but failed to find the back of the net. Their defense was solid, and after 80 hard fought minutes, the game ended a 0-0 draw.
October 1 saw the Warriors travel to Beckley, WV, to take on Greater Beckley Christian School. In a game the Warriors totally dominated and should have won, the Beckley team fought hard and put in two surprising goals in the first half. Chance Blevins responded to their first goal, and older brother Eli cancelled out their second. The King’s Warriors kept the ball in the attacking half and peppered the goal with shot after shot the second half, searching for the elusive game winner. Greater Beckley’s goalkeeper rose to the challenge and made save after save to preserve his team’s valiant 2-2 tie.
On October 4, Mt. Mission came to Summers County for a return match. The King’s Warriors were hungry, and played a very even match with the Challengers. Mt. Mission drew first blood, but right forward Aliena Bezek knotted things up off a corner kick just before the half. Mt. Mission scored one more in the second half and held the Warriors at bay to escape with a narrow 2-1 win.
KWSC ended the “stretch” part of the season when they traveled to Williamstown, WV, to take on Wood County Christian School on the banks of the Ohio River. Wood County is one of the state’s top teams. They were sporting a record of 10-3, including a win over state power house Cross Lanes Christian School. One glance at the size, speed, athleticism, and physicality of the Wood County team, and it was evident this was not a game the King’s Warriors were supposed to win. But the King’s Warriors didn’t get the memo. About 18 minutes into the match, Chance Blevins was fouled and a direct kick was awarded. Eli Blevins sent an incredible 30 yard curling shot from the left side just over the goalkeeper’s outstretched arms and into the far side “upper 90” netting. 1-0 King’s Warriors. The shocked Wood County team upped the intensity, but that resulted in more fouls. Shortly before the half, another direct kick was awarded. Eli Blevins calmly placed the ball on the ground, then sent a high floater that squeezed under the crossbar and off the keeper’s finger tips. King’s Warriors 2-0. With only seconds remaining in the first half, a questionable foul on goalkeeper Jack Spurgin left him sprawled on the ground on a Wood County corner kick. That left the goal mouth open for a split second and allowed a Wood County player to head home a goal to close the gap to 2-1 at the half.
The second half was a real nail biter, as Wood County controlled the flow of the game in the midfield. However, they lacked creativity in the final third and had no answer for the tenacious King’s Warriors defense. Tempers flared in the spirited match, and a total of 3 yellow cards were issued. Hanging on to a thread and watching the seconds ever so slowly tick away, the referee’s whistle suddenly blew during a goal mouth scramble with only 18 seconds remaining on the clock. Inexplicably, the referee awarded an incredibly dubious penalty kick against Eli Blevins, who had blocked a shot with his body while holding his arms tightly against his sides. The King’s Warriors showed good restraint as they took up their positions outside the penalty area without dissent. Goalkeeper Jack Spurgin stepped up strong and confident against the Wood County captain, who stepped up to take the spot kick. Unbelievably, the kick went just wide of Spurgin’s left post. He sent the ensuing goal kick long to Chance Blevins, who shepherded the ball to a far corner to run out the clock, sealing the 2-1 win and one of the finest victories in program history.
On Monday, October 8, the King’s Warriors hosted the Greenbrier Academy team at Hilldale Community Park. Playing mostly JV players, and actually loaning several players to the short-sided Academy team, the King’s Warriors won 5-2. Eli Blevins and Jack Spurgin scored; Harleigh Ellison, Randy Truitt, and Bryanna Cook each scored their first King’s Warriors goal. The two Greenbrier Academy goals were actually scored by King’s Warriors players Chance Blevins and Aaron Smith while playing for the Academy team.
KWSC will now focus on fine tuning their team over the next couple of weeks in preparation for the big event – the National Association of Christian Athletes annual soccer tournament in Dayton, TN.