WYDaily.com is your source for free news and information in Williamsburg, James City & York Counties.
Jamestown’s boys soccer team is heading into Friday’s Virginia High School League Group 4A Boys Soccer Tournament with only a single loss this year.
The Eagles (18-1) will enter Friday’s state semifinal game against Chancellor on a 16-game win streak, in large part thanks to the offensive triumvirate of Jeff Wolons, Duncan McDevitt and Kevin Tripp.
The three players have combined for 67 goals this season, though most of the praise has gone to Wolons, who has scored a school-record 45 goals this year.
This late in the season, with teams well aware of Wolons’ scoring skills, utilizing McDevitt and Tripp will be increasingly important as teams throw their best defenders at Wolons. Jamestown coach Bobby O’Brien said playing a team for the first time this season in the state tournament could end up being a positive situation for the Eagles.
“It’s always nice to play teams you haven’t played before. People can watch Jeff and can see how we play. Until they’re out there and trying to perform the task, they don’t know how difficult it can be. It’s a learning curve,” he said. “I think we’re going to be just fine with him and however teams react to him. With the other guys having great last two weeks and stepping up in key moments, I think we’ll be just fine.”
While the Jamestown offense receives most of the praise, the Eagles have put together a sneaky good defense thanks to a late lineup adjustment by O’Brien, which started in the Conference 19 tournament.
A center midfielder during the regular season, Ben Carper was shifted to center back, making him the anchor of the Eagles defense. Carper, whom O’Brien described as a “natural leader,” has served as somewhat of a coach on the field for the Jamestown back line thanks to his vocal nature. O’Brien said moving Carper has led to better communication and toughness from the Jamestown defense outside of a few lapses in concentration.
“The last three or four games we’ve done pretty well defensively,” he said. “A couple times we’ll fall asleep and give up a bad counter attack or set piece. Teams lately haven’t been able to break us down.”
Jamestown has thrived offensively when the defense has held up against tough attacks, utilizing Wolons’ speed to generate counter attacks. It’s not unusual to see the Eagles play a long ball over the top to Wolons, a Virginia Tech commit, early in the game to see how the opposing defense matches up.
One of Jamestown’s biggest strengths is the ability to create near-constant pressure on defenses. The Jamestown attack is relentless, winning 50-50 balls in space and sending crosses into the box with regularity. The offensive-minded team forces defenses to bend until they eventually break for the game’s opening goal.
O’Brien does not know what to expect from Chancellor’s team in the state semifinals, only citing the stellar club soccer scene around Fredericksburg as one of Chancellor’s potential strengths. Regardless of the opponent, O’Brien said no team can be taken lightly in the state tournament.
“Nobody at this point is an easy game,” he said. “We’re going to get everyone’s best shot and they’ll get our best shot.”
Jamestown will take on Chancellor at 2 p.m. Friday on the campus of Liberty University.