The Cave Spring Knights defeated the Blacksburg Bruins 2-1 April 23, ending Blacksburg’s 64-game unbeaten streak in River Ridge District.
At the time, it was just a regular season game that put Cave Spring in first place in the soccer standings. But to Head Coach Matt Neale, it was all the validation he needed that his squad could be something special.
“I know that if we play to our capabilities we can play with anyone in the state – just look at our games against Blacksburg,” he said. “For the longest time, they’ve been the standard for our level of soccer in Virginia.”
The Knights take on Pulaski in the semifinals of the River Ridge District tournament Wednesday. Their reward if they win? More than likely, it will be another date with Blacksburg in the regionals.
“It would be fun, but we can’t get ahead of ourselves,” Neale said. “Right now, I have tunnel vision. All I am thinking about is Pulaski – and that’s the only game we need to be focusing on right now.”
The Knights (11-2-2) were 1-0-1 against the Cougars during the regular season, defeating them 2-0 on April 1st and settling for a 2-2 in their most recent matchup May 5th.
“If we want to win, we’ll have to finish our chances better than we did last game,” said Will Dooley, the team’s starting goalkeeper. “In the game we tied, we had 3 or 4 wide open chances from within the penalty spot and couldn’t convert, so we’ll have to do better.”
On paper, the Knights have an advantage over many of the teams on their schedule due in large part to their depth of talent. Of the 21 players on their roster, 17 compete in the competitive Roanoke Star club program.
“They’re just a great group of kids – they are a team in the truest sense of the word,” Neale said. “They enjoy each other, they do well academically, and I think that has just as much to do with their success on the field as does their talent.”
A win Wednesday (7:30 pm at Hidden Valley) would clinch a spot for the Knights in the Region IV tournament.