by Seneca Contomanolis
CHANTILLY - It was business as usual for the Deep Run defense in the biggest match of the season.
The Wildcats recorded their 17th shutout of the season as they defeated Robinson 1-0 in the state Group AAA championship on Saturday.
“Seventeen shutouts in 25 games is absolutely incredible,” Deep Run coach Steve Chapman said. “They have been so clean and smart in the back. It is a testimonial to our three seniors in the back Brandon Gary, Zach Summers and keeper Cameron Murray.”
Senior Bryan Wharton scored the match’s lone goal off of a cross from another senior, Brian Ownby, in the 12th minute on a hot, sultry June afternoon at Westfield High School.
“They all ran after Carl [Weber] who was making the first run so I called for Brian to put it back post,” Wharton said. “I was there by myself and I just put it in.”
Chapman, at the helm of Deep Run for the final time, received about as good of a going away present a coach could get.
In charge since the school’s inception in 2002, Chapman led the Wildcats to three consecutive trips to the Central Region tournament. The team fell in the region semis two years in a row before losing to Thomas Dale in the title game this season.
“It is bittersweet, bittersweet,” said Chapman of the program’s first state title. “It is a culmination of efforts.”
Deep Run (22-2-1) controlled the tempo for much of the first half out shooting the Northern Region runner-up 5-1.
In the second half the Wildcats still attacked and led in shots 10-7, but Robinson (12-5-3) pushed harder forcing Murray to make a few key saves.
The biggest save came with 10 seconds remaining in the contest when a Rams’ player was able to get the ball past Murray.
As the ball bounced towards the open net and the crowd braced for overtime Summers came flying in and booted the ball out of bounds to preserve the victory.
“I have no idea,” said Chapman about the play.
On a day when temperatures reached towards triple digits forcing the teams to take water timeouts midway through each half, Deep Run may have benefited from an easy 6-0 win over Kecoughtan in the semifinals on Friday night.
“It was nice to have the blowout yesterday because we could rest our starters,” Wharton said. “I think they had a tough match against Thomas Dale so they were probably a little more tired”
Said Ownby of the heat, “you got to keep hydrated but you still have to keep playing every single play.”
As the match and championship slipped away from Robinson some of the Rams’ players became frustrated and more physical. The team finished with 20 fouls and accumulated three yellow cards in the final ten minutes.
The Wildcats kept their composure though, a testament to the program Chapman has built over the past six years.
“When we opened in 2002 we made a very sincere game plan to build one of the best programs in the state of Virginia,” Chapman said. “We founded our program on four key words: passion, honor, excellence and tradition.
“And this is the first group for four years that have busted their tails…These boys played with passion and honor like nobody else before them.”
Deep Run 1 0 – 1
Robinson 0 0 – 0
Saves: Murray (DR) 3; Dominguez (R) 4
Records: Deep Run (22-2-1); Robinson (12-5-3)