A Milestone Victory For Buckingham

Published 4:11 pm Tuesday, March 20, 2012

BUCKINGHAM – The Buckingham County High School soccer team probably couldn't have scripted a better way to begin its 2012 campaign than with its 3-1 home victory over Prince Edward on Friday afternoon.

The Knights, who began defense of their 2011 James River District Championship recorded a milestone victory of sorts.

“It's the first time in our history we've beaten them,” said BCHS head coach Chuck Meek, adding that the Eagles have been one of the strongest programs in the area over the years. “We knew they were undefeated, and I think our team felt it had something to prove to themselves.”

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The two teams played 50/50 soccer for much of the first period, but a series of three events within about a 90 second window changed the course of the match.

In the 42nd minute, Buckingham midfielder/forward Nick Rhoe took a crosspass from speedy forward Mike Amos and deposited it into the upper right corner of the net.

Seconds later, Prince Edward appeared to have scored on a shot that was stopped by BCHS goalie Jason Conway right at the mouth of the goal. Had the field been an inch or two shorter, the game could've very well been tied.

“It was close,” said Meek. “But that helped sway momentum our way. Jason has good hands, and lucky for us, he's just a sophomore.”

Buckingham further seized momentum in the 44th minute when Bobby Dandridge was fouled in the PE penalty box. His direct kick put BCHS up 2-0 just before intermission, and really allowed the Knights to take control of the game.

“That was a big swing,” said PECHS head coach Sebastian Chirila of the chain of events that led up to the penalty shot. “It was a tough call. I didn't see it that way, but things happen down there so fast, and it's a split-second decision.”

Buckingham took full control of the match with its third goal in the 50th minute of the match. Shortly thereafter, a Prince Edward player was dealt a red card, which put the Eagles in even more of a hole.

“It was a hard red,” said Chirila, so we had to play a man-down for the final 35 or so minutes. With this being our third game of the week, it was just too much to play through.

“We had just two subs, so everyone has played a lot of minutes. We pushed ourselves, but there was not a lot left in the tank. You like to be at full-strength when you play a team that is as strong as Buckingham.”

Liam Burke scored for the Eagles late in the match to stave off the shutout, but by then, the Eagles were on the way to their first loss of the season.

“Our defense played amazingly,” said Meek. “We scouted them and knew not to let them play over our heads, and we did a good job stopping that, but they adapted and changed that, so we had to adjust again. I knew they didn't have a lot of subs, so we did try to tire them out with our conditioning and running. Mike [Amos] is probably the fastest player in the district.”

Buckingham suffered some losses from last year's team due to graduation, but the program is healthier than ever. For the first time, the team had to cut players after filling out its varsity and JV rosters.

Still, it's not the same district the Knights won last year. The additions of Goochland, Nottoway and Bluestone have upped the ante a good bit.

“Every one of those teams is talented, and they'll be gunning for us. We lost four or five from last year's team, so we're still adjusting. We start a freshman and two sophomores, so we're pretty young, but young with potential.

“It's a different district for sure. Not only do you have those teams coming in, but Amelia will be strong, as will Randolph-Henry. It's going to make for an interesting year.”