DELAND West Shore showed patience as a team, and in the critical moment, Abe Murphy showed patience on the attack.
Murphy fed Amugo Chukwunenye for the game’s only goal and the Wildcats (20-4) claimed a 1-0 boys Class 2A state soccer championship win over Tampa Berkeley Prep on Thursday at Spec Martin Stadium.
It was the school’s second title. The Wildcats had beaten the same Berkeley Prep team in 2012 in double overtime, 3-2.
With 20:36 to play on Thursday afternoon, Murphy possessed the ball on the right side of the penalty box and delivered left to an oncoming Chukwenenye, West Shore’s leading scorer. He drove the ball home for what turned out to be the deciding score.
“I saw he was going to make a move and got in position in case he crossed or made a move,” Chukwenenye said. He burst into the open suddenly after having been shut out to that point and scored his 18th of the season.
“The first half, the game was complicated,” he said. “Every time I got the ball, they closed me down so quickly.”
But Murphy knew the Wildcats were moving the ball well throughout the game, forcing the opponents to work on defense, and he expected the Bucs to wear down. So, when the opportunity presented itself, he maneuvered the ball long enough and lost his defender at the right time.
“I actually didn’t have the best touch,” he said. “I knew I had taken enough time for our strikers to be in play. (Chukwenenye) timed his run and was right there. I guess that’s all it took to win the game.”
Well, not exactly. Coach Bob Robidoux pointed out the Wildcats had to shut down a number of prolific scorers during the season’s stretch run, and Thursday was no different. Berkeley Prep ninth-grader J.T. Copper came into the game with 25 goals. Robidoux said the game plan was similar to that which stopped previous major threats.
“I had Nick Burgess and Brandon (Benitez). One would step in front and the other would drop behind,” he said. “We also had Sam (Leighton) involved.”
It worked. The Bucs didn’t manage a true shot-on-goal the entire game. West Shore got six, including the one that counted.
Nick Pekmezian, Collin Robidoux, Murphy and Amugo all had other shots that could have scored. Cameron Yeutter nearly closed the deal in the first half. He beat the Berkeley Prep goalkeeper to the ball and headed it toward the open goal, but it was saved by a diving defender.
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Friday’s Class 3A girls championship
Spec Martin Stadium, DeLand
Stanton vs. Merritt Island, 10 a.m.