Boyle boys finally win regional soccer title

October 24, 2003|JILL ERWIN

BEREA - As the Boyle County boys soccer fans walked to their cars, David Hopper stopped behind his car.

He took the yellow paint he had decorated his vehicle with, including the words "Jason #14" for his son. He crossed out the word "win" and replaced it with "won," making the back window read, "Good Luck Rebels...Won Region."

After three years, Boyle was done waiting to celebrate.

Boyle won its first regional title here Thursday, topping Model 3-1 in the 15th Region championship at Madison Southern. Sophomore Eric Curtis earned most valuable player honors, scoring two goals in each of the two regional matchups.

"It's more than I thought it would be," Curtis said. "I just want to cry. It's so great, words can't explain it."


Boyle's players enjoyed every minute of the celebration, too, picking up a police escort once the school bus got back to Danville and leading a long trail of parents honking their car horns behind it.

It was the crowning achievement of a team that had reached the regional final the previous two years only to fall short each time.

The Rebels (14-6-1) will host the sub-section 8 game Saturday against 16th Region champion South Laurel.

"We set this goal three years ago when we got here," Boyle coach Greg Conley said. "The first two teams surprised us by getting to the finals. That's why the slogan on the back of this year's shirt says, 'This Time,' because this is this only goal we had. We didn't care about the conference, we didn't care about our record, we didn't care about district with the exception of getting out of the district.

"We set school history today. We're moving on to the sub-sectional and it's going to be at home. I'm so excited and I've never been more proud of a bunch of kids in my life."

Model (8-11-4) did its best to ruin Boyle's party, scoring first and shutting down Boyle's initial game plan. James Taylor scored on a diving header with 17:07 left to play in the first half.

That came in the midst of a first half that saw Boyle struggle offensively and defensively against Model's speed. The Patriots outshot Boyle 6-5 in the first half, while the Rebels held an 11-3 advantage in the second half. Model had three first-half penalty kicks to Boyle's one, but Boyle had a 5-1 advantage after halftime.

"We had a game plan before the game, but we saw in the first half that did not work," Curtis said. "So we just said, 'Let's do what we've been doing all season.' We did it and we turned out victorious."

They were victorious because Curtis found the back of the net twice. His first one was a chip shot that lofted over goalkeeper Steve Donaldson's head from 27 yards out with just under nine minutes gone in the second half.

"I saw the keeper coming out, I had a great ball, and my instincts told me to take it so I took it," Curtis said.

Thirteen minutes later, Curtis gave Boyle the lead with a shot from the left side that deflected off of Donaldson and into the goal for a 2-1 lead.

Conley said he couldn't have been happier for Curtis, who also scored two goals in Boyle's 3-2 win over Madison Southern Tuesday in the regional opener.

"Eric is a postseason god as far as I'm concerned," Conley said. "I asked him why he played so well in the second half (of the first game), and he said he didn't want the seniors to go out that way. He's got a heart as big as a lion and I love the kid to death."

Junior Patrick Morgan closed out the scoring with 1:07 to play when he scored on a one-on-one with Donaldson.

Boyle senior Max Gideon said this season has been about the team. "It's an amazing feeling," Gideon said after earning all-tournament honors. "I'm really proud of my team. We gave it all we could, we pulled through and did a great job."

Now Conley prepares for the game he's been hoping for all year, and he said reality has been quite a gift.

"I can't believe it right now," Conley said. "I'm walking three feet off the ground right now. I'm just really proud of the guys."

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