Blue Ridge Early College varsity soccer team gave it their all against Queen’s Grant but couldn’t pull off the win in the state tournament with a final of 5-2 at home on Tuesday.
Queen’s Grant, out of Charlotte, put two in the back of the net in the first half. They followed that up when Queen’s Grant scored another two goals at the beginning of the second half. Head Coach Nick Pressler said they played much better in the second half but sometimes things don’t go your way.
“We played a whole lot better in the second half, we played our soccer,” said Pressler. “They made the most of their chances and they’re a good team. It is what it is.”
Blue Ridge players were walking the field with leaf blowers and sand donated from High Hampton Inn on Tuesday morning attempting to dry the field as much as possible so they could maintain home-field advantage in the second round of the 2018 Men’s Soccer Championship-1A tournament. Had the field been deemed unplayable the game would have been moved to Smokey Mountain School in Sylva, N.C.
Pressler added that he could not be prouder of his players.
“The effort these guys put in throughout the year is just incredible,” said Pressler. “You bounce around and have ups and downs, but these guys never give up. They could have laid down and given up tonight (Tuesday) when we were down by 2, but they didn’t, they fought hard. I’m so proud of the effort these kids gave tonight and all season. Tonight, we put balls in the net, just not enough.”
Tuesday’s game marks the last game of the 2018 Blue Ridge soccer season. They won first place in conference and made it to the second round of the state championships. Blue Ridge goalie and senior Levi Taylor said they didn’t play their positions well enough against Queen’s Grant and the wet conditions made playing the keeper position a little slick.
“We had a lot of missed opportunities, “said Taylor. “When the field is this wet you obviously slip all over, and especially in the mud. I think I would have had two more saves if it were dry conditions, but what are you going to do.”
He added that it’s not exactly how he wanted his high-school soccer career to end, but he was happy with this year’s season.
“We accomplished our goals, we beat Highlands twice and we took first in conference, so it was a good season,” he said.
Senior Carter Ferrin said he had some great times on the field at Blue Ridge and will miss playing high-school soccer.
“Overall it was a good season,” said Ferrin. “We could have done some things better, but we always tried our hardest. I’m going to miss it, but in the long run, we made great things happen here.”
Senior Noah Pressler was among the several players who helped prepare the field for Tuesday’s game and said they gave it their all on the field and he has no regrets.
“I’m not mad at how we played today,” said Noah. “We did everything we could do, and it’s been a great season. But it’s emotional to know it’s my last game.”
He added that he thinks their efforts to dry the field helped improve playing conditions.
“The conditions weren’t great today, but we did our best to make it work,” said Noah. “It’s (the field) a lot better now than it was this morning when we first got out there.”
Sophomore Korbin Walters said they missed some chances against Queen’s Grant and could have played better, but he is proud of their season and is looking forward to basketball coming up next.
“I think we could have done better, and we had a few missed opportunities,” said Walters. “But I think we had a great season and I can’t wait until next year.”
Junior Colton Taylor said they played well against Queen’s Grant but could have done a couple of things better.
“We played good but not to our full potential,” said Colton. “We had a lot of missed opportunities, but overall I think we did great and had a very good season.”
Nick said he’s pleased with his first year as Blue Ridge head coach, but there are some players who will be missed next year. However, Nick said some good pieces are in place for next soccer season.
“It’s been a really good season,” said Nick. “We’ll miss the seniors, but we got a good bunch coming back and we have a good foundation, so we’re going to see some good things moving forward.”
Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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