Fleming eliminates Terriers

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Byrd’s Ryan Buxton sends the ball down the field in last week’s regular season finale, a
6-0 win over Rockbridge at Vinyard Park. PHOTO BY BRIAN HOFFMAN

The William Byrd soccer boys saw their season come to an end with a 3-1 loss to William Fleming in Roanoke Monday. The game was a Conference 24 tournament semifinal, and the loss left Byrd one win shy of making the Region 4A West tournament.

“It was a very competitive game in the first half, both teams had a few good looks,” said coach Matt Guilliams. “While I thought the chances in that first half between both teams were pretty even, I thought we definitely were a little more dangerous.”

Byrd had an apparent first half goal called back due to offsides. Luke Johnston was called for the violation.

“We’ve struggled with that this season, keeping ourselves on side and staying with the last defender has been a challenge all year, but we’ve progressed as the year went on,” said Guilliams. “I’ve always felt Luke had pretty good judgment with his positioning going forward. When he came off the field I asked him if he thought he was still on-side and he felt like the goal shouldn’t have been disallowed. That would have certainly swung things our way, getting on top that early into the game. We never really created a chance the rest of the half as good as that one and went into the break 0-0.”

The beginning of the second half is where it began to go downhill the Terriers as Fleming jumped to a 3-0 lead.

“We really didn’t make too many mistakes in this game, they were just fortunate to capitalize on the few that we had,” said Guilliams.

Byrd scored with just under five minutes a remaining as Luke Johnston assisted a goal scored by Jesse Settle. The Terriers outshot Fleming, 14-12, and both teams had eight shots on target. Zach Aylor had nine saves in the goal for Byrd.

“We had more corners and had 14 attempts off long throw-ins,” said Guilliams. “It wasn’t like they were dominating the game or we couldn’t get anything going, it just seemed like nothing was falling our way and in the end, that’s what killed us.”

Fleming was scheduled to meet Bassett in the championship game. The Bengals beat Salem on penalty kicks after playing to a scoreless tie in the other semifinal. Fleming and Bassett advance to regional play and Byrd sees the season come to an end with an 11-7 overall record.

“In my eyes that was the championship game between the best two teams in the conference,” said Guilliams of the Byrd-Fleming game. “This whole system to me makes no sense compared to the way everything used to be back just five years ago. I hate it so much for our guys, because we honestly should still be playing.

“After starting the year 1-5 we wound up finishing off the season 10-2. We peaked at the perfect time and were doing pretty much everything right. It’s hard to cope with the fact it’s all over considering the potential I believe this group had if we could have gotten past this semifinal game, but that’s the way it is sometimes and you just have to play with the cards you’re dealt.”