GALAX, Va. – It is a very rare feeling indeed to walk off of a soccer field in June, with Galax as the opponent, and have a smile on one’s face. Though it came at the end of a dreadful afternoon, Patrick Henry can at least salvage the experience through a feeling that very few other teams have known.
The Rebels surrendered seven first-half goals and were headed for an 8-0 defeat in the Class 1 state semifinals when Jonah Bassett scored unassisted in the final minute of play to put a positive note on an otherwise forgettable day.
The bottom line though is that Galax (15-5-1) still moves on to the Class 1 semifinals for a sixth straight year with the 8-1 win, seeking a fifth state title during that span. Patrick Henry’s season closes at 8-6.
Galax peppered the Rebels with an incredible 58 shots – 21 of them on goal – before Bassett found himself with the ball deep in the left corner of the Maroon Tide zone. Maneuvering through two Galax defenders, Bassett placed a shot inside the back post from a steep angle to avert the shutout.
“We played a hard game and we were able to get one in there at the end,” said Patrick Henry coach Erik Carrigan. “We knew it was going to be a tough game. Galax has won I think five of the last six state championships and we knew it was going to be a battle going in.”
Carrigan wasn’t off in his assessment of the Maroon Tide. Ten scoreless minutes were followed by a barrage of goals by Galax, beginning with an Eric Escobar strike from close range 12 minutes in.
A goal by Jose Ledezma and a Patrick Henry own goal widened the gap to 3-0, Edward Medina converted a blind feed from Cristian Rojas, Caxton Vaught tucked home a long shot off a corner kick and Salvador Garcia found the net twice from 35 yards away as the Maroon Tide’s lead ballooned to seven by the break.
“We’re starting to play really well right now,” said Galax coach Troy Barkley. “We’re moving the ball and it seems like we’re communicating and we’re starting to mesh and gel like we need to.”
Barkley had reminded his kids that the Rebels had tested the Maroon Tide in last year’s quarterfinals, a 3-0 Galax win.
“We talked about that before the game,” Barkley said. “They gave us a tough game last year and Erik is a great coach but it always helps our confidence to get up in the first half. And of course at this time of year it’s all about surviving and advancing to the next round.”
Rebel goalkeeper Anna Haun more than held her own against the state’s top small school program, stopping 13 Galax shots.
“She’s an excellent keeper,” Carrigan said. “She’s one of the best that I’ve seen. She’s put a lot of work in, she sees a goalie coach on her own time and she works really hard.”