PARKERSBURG - ''We're excited and the kids are excited, but you have to let the chips fall where they may.''
Spoken like a veteran head coach, which Don Fosselman is, as he takes his Parkersburg High boys soccer team to Charleston today to play in the state tournament.
The 16-3-4 Big Reds will face 16-5-2 George Washington in the Class AAA state semifinals at approximately 7 p.m. today at Schoenbaum Soccer Complex. The winner will meet the other semifinal victor, either 21-0-1 Hurricane or 14-6-1 Hedgesville, for the state championship Wednesday.
Photo by Jeff Baughan
Parkersburg's Zac Wilcoxen kicks the ball to a teammate and away from Wheeling Park's Grant Robertson.
A state title for PHS would be its seventh in boys soccer, with all coming under Fosselman's watch.
Juniors Evan Rhodes and Nick Payne start ''up on top'' at forwards for Fosselman. ''They're both very, very fast,'' said Fosselman. ''Evan is a 300-meter hurdler and Nick is just so quick.
''We made some changes throughout the year. Evan wasn't always a forward. He was a midfielder, but we moved him up there because he's big, tall, strong and has a nose for the goal.''
Right behind them is senior forward Garrett Kruger. ''I don't know how he does the things he does; he's just magical with the ball,'' said Fosselman. ''And he never quits. He's a gamer, but one thing about us - all our kids are gamers.''
Then at the midfield positions, ''we have four or five people we're playing - (juniors) Austin Yeater, Tyler Miller, (sophomores) Hunter Hill, Matt Powney and Tommy Logston,'' said Fosselman. ''All of those guys I rotate in and out.''
At defensive mid is senior Zac Wilcoxen and ''right behind sits our stopper, (senior) Tyler Broadwater.'' said Fosselman.
At marking backa are senior Cam Morris and junior Brandon DiCicco, and behind them is the sweeper, junior Tyler Bro, ''who I think is the best sweeper in the state,'' said Fosselman.
And finally, junior keeper Reid Strobl, the last line of defense for PHS, is ''the most underappreciated goalie in the state of West Virginia, because he is really good,'' said Fosselman. ''He's matured a lot in the past year.''
For PHS captains Wilcoxen and Broadwater, winning is ''all about team,'' said Wilcoxen. ''We don't have any individuals; we're just all one team. And we have chemistry because a lot of us have played together so long on the same teams growing up. We're all friends on the team, we play as a team and we don't care who scores the goals as long as the goals are scored.''
Broadwater hopes to make his final two high school games ''the best.'' Like Wilcoxen, he too ''is a little sad it's all coming to an end, just because we've all been together so long and would do anything for each other. You know, if one guy gets beat, the other guy is right behind him, backing him up, as well as working hard and really playing for the guy beside him too.''