JAMES CITY—Jamestown High is poised to become the soccer capital of the Bay Rivers District. The Eagles' girls and boys will take a huge step toward district titles on Monday should they beat Tabb, whose teams pose the most serious obstacles toward those objectives.
The Jamestown girls (9-1 overall, 5-0 district) host Tabb (9-1, 5-0) at James City County Stadium in a battle of the last unbeatens in district play. Should the Eagles' boys (7-1-1, 5-0) beat the second-place Tigers (7-1-1, 3-1-1) in their game at Tabb, a district title becomes all but inevitable.
Both have been terrific defensively, thanks to the willingness of a former midfielder to move to the defense.
Tri-captain Erika Tarley made that switch for the girls, who have allowed only five goals in their five district games.
"I'm really impressed with her leadership by stepping into this role," said Eagles coach Kevin Dawson, who coaches the team with the assistance of his wife, Michelle. "She's solidifying the defense, even though she's not getting her name in the paper for scoring goals.
"Caitlin McNitt has also been good defensively, because she's so hard to get by."
Defense was an even bigger question mark for the boys coming into the season, because of a lack of experience. So Eagles coach Bobby O'Brien moved senior captain J.T. Smith from midfielder to stopper for a defense that has allowed only four goals in nine games.
"I knew he'd be out of position at first, but he's adapted to the role and we have senior leadership back there with our sophomores," said O'Brien, who also praised Nick Platamone and Drew Fredrichs for their defensive work.
Both Dawson and O'Brien say their defenses can make the occasional mistake and get by because the goalkeeping has been outstanding.
Dawson said Jesseca Thompson's athletic and acrobatic saves have prompted him to say "Wow!" more than once, while O'Brien calls junior Alex Guerra "athletic, very good in the air and a great shot-stopper."
With their defenses in control, the Jamestown teams have been free to attack without fear. Jessica Napoleon has done a nice job of moving the ball from the midfield for the girls and Trevor Davis has done likewise for the boys.
The result is that both teams have produced a prolific goal-scorer. Lauren Gough, an all-state forward, has 11 goals, while Patrick O'Brien, the coach's younger brother, has netted 10.
The similarities go as far as the teams' biggest wins to date, both coming against Grafton. Gough said the 5-1 win over the traditionally tough Clippers showed just how far the girls team has come.
The boys' 3-2 win over Grafton on Dan Geyer's last-second goal gave the Eagles a shot of confidence they have ridden ever since.
What the Jamestown boys and girls would most like to share at the moment are victories over Tabb, and the district titles they could very well earn as a result.
"This is a pretty big game, because we're both undefeated and both have good players," Gough said of the Tabb contest.
O'Brien said, "Two of our final three games are against teams near the bottom, so we can more or less lock (the district title) up with a win. So, a lot is riding on this (Tabb) game, because we'd like to have that cushion."
Monday's gamesBOYS at 7 p.m.
Jamestown boys (7-1-1, 5-0 BRD) at Tabb (7-1-1, 3-1-1).
GIRLS at 7 p.m.
Tabb girls (9-1, 5-0 BRD) vs. Jamestown (8-1, 4-0), at JCC Stadium.
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