POWHATAN – When a Powhatan player had the ball on Thursday, he or she could count on a teammate being nearby to support them or pick up the pass.

“That’s overall team effort – the way we practice, the way we preach,” middle school head coach Willie Miles said after the game.

That team effort was reflected in the final score, as six different players scored goals for Powhatan Middle School Soccer in its 7-0 win over Prince Edward in the Southside Middle School Conference tournament semifinals. Powhatan’s victory ensures that it will host Park View – whom Powhatan defeated the prior Monday in its regular season finale, 6-1 – in the championship game on Thursday, Oct. 24 at 4:30 p.m. at Powhatan Middle School. The match was originally scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 22, but was postponed due to the forecast for rain.

“Truly, this group, I’m very blessed to have because they are of all ages – it’s development for the future obviously for the high school program,” said Miles, who is also a coach at the high school. “But at the same time, it’s a great group of kids and just blessed to have them, and they play the right way. They take care of business and they play their game.”

After Prince Edward’s goalie played stonewalling defense to open Thursday’s semifinal matchup, Powhatan’s Cole Donnelly finished off a ball that the goalie deflected off of a hard kick from a Powhatan teammate; Brayden Elzey afterward hammered a big shot that zoomed through the goalie’s legs, and Brandon Vallant kneed in a corner kick while airborne to give Powhatan a 3-0 lead at halftime. From there, Evan Sargent outpaced the goalie to send the ball into the net, Logan Thompson smashed a deep ball from the right side into the top right corner, Pierce Vandell launched a shot above the leaping goalie and into the top-shelf netting and Sargent had his second goal of the contest cross the threshold.

These young players are very accountable of each other and of themselves, Miles pointed out, and he commends them for that. For the coach, this team has been a joy overall.

“It’s all just fun-loving kids,” he said. “They love to be here, and that makes the job a lot easier….they love the game. It’s truly a special thing to see, and I couldn’t do it without them, the parents – Coach [Jessica Minnix] my assistant is an all-star…she stepped into this role, it’s her first year coaching but man ol’ man, she’s acted like a head coach from the start all the way to the finish, so it’s been [a blessing] to see that.”

The team has yet to lose this season, winning 15 times and tying twice in 17 games played thus far.

A lot of Powhatan’s players play through the travel club known as Fury FC, and sometimes they don’t play on the same team, but they’ve played together through their youth, Miles pointed out. They also play for other travel teams, and Miles is a firm believer in allowing the students to play as much soccer as they want to; he’s also open to working with their schedules to make sure all can be balanced out with their playing for multiple teams.

“Sixth through eighth grade, they’re a lot of the same age level, so that helps out a lot,” Miles added. “This group, this team, they all come together and get the chemistry down, and it’s really beneficial for high school because they have that chemistry down right away to go into the high school division and just translate that because we have tough competition at the high school coming up… that was the biggest emphasis with this program going into this year: getting the development down so they can translate better to high school.”

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