RADFORD — Even with a two-goal lead at halftime of the Group AA boys soccer state championship game, Jamestown High coach Bobby O'Brien insisted his players stick by what he calls the "live by the sword, die by the sword" attack-oriented style that has become their signature.
"Bobby told us, `Don't you dare go into a defensive shell, because Tuscarora is too good of a team to just clear it out of the back for 40 minutes,' " senior defender Drew Friedrichs said. "That's the way we've played all season: We just keep scoring."
The final goal of 112 for the Eagles in 2012 was Jon Cullom's blast from 25 yards with 7 minutes, 46 remaining in the state final. It gave Jamestown a 4-3 win over Tuscarora and the program's third state championship on Saturday at Radford University's Cupp Stadium.
It's not as if Jamestown could've sat in a shell anyway. In a classic battle of pot and kettle, Tuscarora (21-3-2) attacked relentlessly, making offense Jamestown's best defense.
"Any time we thought we had it cleared, they put it right back on us," Eagles midfielder Hunter Hartnett said. "They didn't give us any rest.
"It feels good to win a state championship, but when you have to earn it against a great team, it feels really great."
Jamestown is at its best when playing in front, and the Eagles moved ahead quickly by scoring the game's first two goals within six minutes of the opening kickoff. Phil Geyer short-cornered the ball in the second minute to brother Dan, who lofted a pass into the box that Friedrichs headed into the net.
Barely two minutes later, Patrick Kelly beat a defender at the edge of the box and crossed to Cullom before reaching the endline. Cullom headed inside the left post and just like that Jamestown led 2-0.
"It would've been difficult beating them without the quick start," Kelly said. "That gave us confidence that, `Yes, we can do it. We can win a state championship.' "
The Huskies came storming back, led by talented forward Angel Ceron Garcia. Garcia was unlucky not to score on header that produced a spectacular tip save over the bar by Jamestown's freshman goalkeeper Trevor Hartnett.
Sergio Resendiz scored the Huskies first goal, from long range, to cut the Jamestown lead to 2-1 with 13:06 to play in the first half. The Eagles retaliated three minutes before halftime, making it 3-1 at the break on a Kelly penalty kick resulting from a Tuscarora handball on Hunter Hartnett's header in the box.
Garcia erased the Eagles lead by netting a pair of goals within a two-minute span 15 minutes into the second half. On the first, he muscled Jamestown defender Mike Connell aside and rocketed the ball in from 17 yards. Garcia took advantage of Trevor Harnett's failure to control a grounder at the top of the box to score and tie the game at 3-3 with about 25 minutes remaining.
"I tried to just pick the ball up," Trevor Harnett said. "I should've dove."
O'Brien said that Tuscarora was forced to change tactics in the second half, making long direct passes to Garcia, rather than the favored build-up. The switch actually helped the Huskies, O'Brien said, because Jamestown has struggled with the long ball this season.
Overall, Connell and Friedrichs did a good job on Garcia, with one often marking and the other playing behind him. So the tie score held until the Jamestown attack settled the issue in the form of Cullom's goal from 25 yards.
After controlling the ball following a scramble and beating a defender, Cullom said he put some "swerve" on the ball to get it around Huskies goalkeeper Adam Kight. The spin actually sent the ball through Kight's arms and legs and into goal.
The state title winning goal capped a magical weekend, in which the Eagles rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the final 22 minutes to beat defending state champion Jefferson Forest 3-2 in the semifinals.
"After that, we felt it was our destiny, that it was inevitable that we'd win the state championship," Cullom said.
Kelly said, "We left our legacy today. We'll be remembered as state champions."
JAMESTOWN 4, TUSCARORA 3
Halftime – Jamestown 3-1. Goals – Jamestown, J. Cullom 2, Friedrichs, Kelly; Tuscarora, Garcia 2, Resendiz. Assists – Jamestown, D. Geyer, Kelly. Shots – Jamestown 9, Tuscarora 8. Corner kicks – Jamestown 6, Tuscarora 4. Saves – Jamestown 4, Tuscarora 5 (Kight). (T. Hartnett), Tu Records – Jamestown 19-1-1, Tuscarora 21-3-2.Copyright © 2015, CT Now