The Top 10 Games 2013-2014

The Top 10 Games 2013-2014

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It's all about the games. Whether the regular season or the playoffs, sometimes it's not about who won, but how the game was won. It's about the drama, what's on the line, an underdog pulling through or a top dog realizing it's expectations. No matter the situation, there were plenty of great games for fans, athletes and coaches to rally around. Here are the 10 games that we enjoyed the most.

No. 1 – Western Albemarle versus Albemarle, October 5th

Sure, the final play — Steven Hearn’s incredible catch in the back corner of the end zone as time expired — is the most lasting memory of Western’s 41-39 victory over Albemarle in October.

But what was too quickly forgotten is that it was incredible clash even without that final flourish. Albemarle took a 39-35 lead with a minute left to play in a see-saw battle with another spectacular play, a 67-yard catch and run by Kevin Bernardino. The Patriots were tremendous at controlling the ball on the ground throughout, with Dominique Talley and Kevin McCarthy leading the way while Albemarle ground out the clock a nearly 2 to 1 advantage in time of possession.
There were incredible numbers on both sides and an underrated performance by the Albemarle defense that didn’t show up on the scoreboard as they harassed Kent Henry all night.

Western coach Ed Redmond probably said it best after the game: “In a game like that, there’s no winner or loser, I think both teams are winners.”
Indeed, we all won by getting to witness the thriller of the year.  

No. 2- Albemarle versus Monticello football October 25th

It wasn’t a high-scoring barnburner driven entirely by offense. Instead, a defensive stand had to get the job done for Albemarle against Monticello.

And what a defensive stand it was. Albemarle came up with three sacks on Monticello’s last chance drive that began with 2:40 to play, and then kneeled to close out a 21-20 victory for the Patriots.  

Dominique Talley’s 149 yards on 25 carries and D.G. Archer’s 187 yards on an efficient 10-for-16 passing helped give Albemarle just enough offense to get the job. Talley proved particularly adept at burning the clock on the key drive that left Monticello with little choice but to air it out.

The win for Albemarle ended six years of disappointment at the hands of the Mustangs.

When Mike Alley stepped down during the offseason, it became one of the signature victories of the Alley era. It may also end up being a springboard to early success under new head coach Brandon Isaiah. 

No. 3 — Western Albemarle boys soccer vs. Blacksburg, June 14th

Western Albemarle and Blacksburg’s second matchup of the season, in the Group 3A title game had nearly everything you could ask for in a championship game. It was, quite simply, dramatic.

The drama started with Michael Nafziger’s second half goal that broke a 0-0 tie. It kept going when Blacksburg scored a pair of goals to take control. Then it reached a fever pitch when Nafziger equalized late, forcing the game to overtime which still wasn’t enough – including a rare penalty kick miss by Forrest White – and the game moved to a shootout.

That’s when Al Luna  came up with a pair of saves in penalty kicks and White atoned for his overtime miss to bury the shot and win it for the Warriors, the program’s first title in nearly 20 years.

Strike that. It didn’t have nearly everything. It absolutely had everything.

No. 4 – Albemarle vs. Loudon County, June 15th

Albemarle’s Matt Crist had literally one last game in him. His 5-goal showing in the Division 5A semifinals against Loudoun Valley should have been enough. It wasn’t, but the senior was willing to one up it. And fellow senior Kevin Bernardino was also up to the task. 

The Patriots had two leads in this game, an own goal that the Raiders allowed in the first quarter and Bernardino’s overtime game winner in sudden death. The story inbetween was Crist’s 6-goal effort as he faced the brunt of Loudoun County’s vaunted defense.

Albemarle fought back late in the fourth quarter to tie the game. It also fought off a pair of Raider possessions in overtime before Bernardino converted at the very last moments of the first overtime to give the Patriots their first state title in program history.

It was poignant, dramatic, entertaining and in the end, satisfying for a senior-laden team that won every playoff game from May through June.

No. 5 – St. Anne’s-Belfield vs. St. Catherine’s, May 17th 

The Saints last meeting with St. Catherine’s was STAB's only loss of the season and it came in the LIS finals. The next meeting with the two powerhouses came in the VISAA Division I championship. It was one to remember.

STAB might have fallen into a bit of a hole early on, trailing 1-0 at the half, but the second half was completely different. Just 12 minutes after the break Gillian Borton put in the equalizer on a rebound. Then six minutes later senior Kylie Hegemeir made it 2-1 off a corner from Tayloranne Barry.

But this was a game chock full of drama and St. Cat’s found a way to force overtime late in the second half. Not to be outdone though, senior Haley Kent scored the eventual game winner in extra time, a shot from deep early on. Then the Saints had to sit back and play defense, something they did masterfully this time around. 

It was back-and-forth game won by the tenacity of a senior class that led the way two years prior, also against St. Catherine’s in the state title game. This extra time victory gave the Saints two of the last three state titles, and a true swan song for a group of seniors that accomplished so much in their careers including a pair of state titles.

No. 6 - Buckingham County vs. Dan River, November 22nd

Buckingham made such quick work of James River in the Region 2A playoffs, that it was clear by halftime of that game that the focus was on Dan River. One week of preparation turned out to be much more than that. The Knights offense had been rolling, but there was little doubt that the meeting with the Wildcats was going to be a battle of the wills, each defense going up against vaunted rushing attacks.

That Buckingham would go to make a showing in the Division 2A final four stems from this key victory of Dan River, a win on the road that with out a doubt, was the signature win for this edition of the Knights. In years past the Knights have put together great regular seasons only to run into a giant, often the eventual state champion. Here with Dan River, Buckingham got over the hump and made its stand. In a game that wound up 15-6, and the Knights holding on late down the stretch. 

Behind the defense, the Knights went into the halftime up 7-6, and got the insurance they needed in the fourth quarter and a two-point convert to put the game on ice. While Buckingham fell to state finalist Brunswick in the final four, its win over Dan River was arguably the biggest win for any public school this fall. 

No. 7 - Tuscarora at Albemarle boys soccer, June 3

Albemarle’s boys soccer team made a run in 2012 that was simply captivating as they clawed their way to the state championship and then won it in dramatic fashion.

Their win over Tuscarora in a shootout in the 5A North Region quarterfinals harkened back to that run and promptly kicked off another run to the final as the Patriots edged the Huskies after equalizing with less than a minute left while playing a man down. Jordan Parks’ dramatic goal off a Marcel Berry assist with nearly no time left on the clock gave the Patriots hope and then they survived overtime to force the shootout. That’s where the two final kicks, by Kevin Salazar and Parks, lifted Albemarle to the win after Tuscarora sailed its fourth penalty kick.

It was an incredible jump start to the Patriots run and while Albemarle couldn’t complete it with a title, they put together a remarkable postseason. 

No. 8 - Madison at Nandua baseball, June 4

Trailing 5-2 in the top of seventh inning, if Madison had gone home with a loss to Nandua in the 2A East Region semifinals, nobody would have thought less of them. Just getting that far and matching up with one of the favorites to compete for a state title in Nandua was impressive. But not impressive enough for the Mountaineers. 

When Dylan Berry drives in Chris Smith on an error in the seventh, the Mountaineers have life. An RBI groundout from Colin Shifflett makes the game truly interesting. An RBI single from James Graves ties it. Madison suddenly has its opponents in a position they never expected, tied at 5-5 heading in to extra innings.

The Mountaineers took that extra inning and made hay with it. RBI doubles from Ashton Wealkey and Berry give the visitors the lead. Then Sam Taylor delivers an exclamation point with a 2-run jack. While Nandua plates a runner in the eighth, the damage was done. Madison shut the door for a 9-6 win and punched its ticket to Salem with a 9-6 win in eight innings.

If there was a Cinderella story this year, it has to been the Mountaineers run in the baseball playoffs. So few saw this run coming, and the game against Nandua was the glass slipper moment, a come-from-behind win in extra innings.

No. 9 - Woodberry at St. Anne's-Belfield boys lacrosse, May 2

It was a clash of the area’s deepest, most talented private school programs, and with both teams boasting top notch defensive units and goalies who’d put in big-time performances, it was clear that when Woodberry and St. Anne’s-Belfield locked up once again, it was going to be a defensive struggle.

Woodberry managed to take control with a 6-4 lead off goals by Pat Shea and Todd Fedyck, but STAB exploded down the stretch, with Nevin Masri scoring a pair of goals, including the equalizer with 19 seconds left that helped send the game to overtime.

Woodberry couldn’t score after gaining possession in overtime and that was enough of an opening for Grant Schultz. Schultz slipped underneath his defender and exploded toward the goal. A quick spin move put his stick back in his left hand and freed him up for a wide open, point blank shot that he buried and kickstarted the celebration.

A tremendous game with a tremendous finish that indicated just how razor thin the margin for error in Division I private school lacrosse was this year. 

No. 10 - Western Albemarle at Charlottesville boys basketball, January 25

Final scores are misleading in basketball. The last few minutes of a game rarely reflect just how contensious a battle might have been for the first 30. Western Albemarle and Charlottesville have arguably the best rivalry going of all the Jefferson District schools, and it’s been that way for a long long time.

With the Warriors having won the first meeting, but also having fallen to Fluvanna County just before the second meeting with the Black Knights, this showdown was for the rights to first place in the district. It was a packed house with both fan bases making their presence known. It was the best atmosphere of any JD game we saw this season, and fittingly, it was one heck of a game between the top two teams in the district, and arguably the area. 

Western came out strong to take a 18-10 lead on their hosts, but a 15-0 run between the end of the second quarter and start of the third put Charlottesville back in business. Caleb Gage had a huge third quarter for the Black Knights. The Warriors made it a 1-point game late in the third thanks to it’s go-to player in Chase Stokes. Then in the fourth, the Scrimmage Play player of the year, Leon Straus, took over and led the Black Knights with a big fourth quarter, including a pair of crowd-rousing dunks to wrap up the win. 

Conference play might have changed the tone of basketball season, but there’s no question that on January 25th, Western and Charlottesville played a regular season game that had the feel of the old way of business where the winner would have likely secured a Region II berth. Call it a modern throwback.

Honorable Mention

Goochland football beats Fork Union football 52-35 in barnburner

Western baseball out-duels Monticello 1-0

Western edges Charlottesville boys soccer in final regular season meeting

Louisa County football beats Charlottesville 14-13

Collegiate girls lacrosse edges STAB 11-10 in LIS title game

Western girls lacrosse beats Albemarle 15-12 in Charlottesville Group title game

Western girls tennis beats York 5-1 in hard fought state title match

Comments

Buckingham-Dan River

Buckingham scored the 2 points on a safety by John Edwards and Brunswick was state runner-up.

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