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Thursday, June 13, 2024

McLean boys soccer loses to Cosby in the Virginia Class 6 championship

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RICHMOND, Va. – McLean boys soccer has routinely fought back from deficits this season.

The Highlanders did that again on Saturday in their most important game of the year. After falling behind just before halftime, McLean found the back of the net in the second half to force overtime in the Virginia Class 6 championship in Richmond.

The game remained tied through the first two overtime periods, but an undefeated Cosby team found a golden goal in the third. Cosby senior Deniss Hayes fired a free kick from just outside the box into the bottom corner to lift the Titans past McLean, 2-1.

The Highlanders (17-3-2) were playing in the second state final in program history and the first since 1995. They earned their spot Friday with a 2-1 win over Gar-Field, but fell just short of their first state title after Cosby’s game winner .

“The heart in this team is amazing. We put together some of our best games when we’re down 1-0,” coach Leland Jameson said. “(They) have that kind of heart, desire, fight and perseverance and they showed that again today. I thought that after halftime we were the better team for the rest of the game. Sometimes the chips just don’t fall your way.”

The Highlanders came close to an early lead with multiple set-piece opportunities, but fell behind after Cosby senior Evan Gaines scored in the 38th minute.

McLean played his way into the match as the second half progressed, eventually finding the equalizer in the 63rd minute. Junior Ada Karatepe dribbled into the penalty area and unleashed a shot that deflected off a defender and beat the goalkeeper to tie the game.

The Highlanders used that goal to force extra time and did not concede in the first two overtime periods. But Cosby crushed their hopes in the third period. As it happened, McLean players fell to the ground as Cosby players ran past them from the bench to celebrate the golden goal.

Saturday’s loss was the Highlanders’ third of the season. Their only other losses were a pair of regular-season losses to Herndon, losses they avenged last month with a 3-2 victory over the Hornets in the Class 6 Region D championship.

McLean could have played the Hornets for the fourth time, but Herndon lost 3-0 to Cosby in the other Class 6 semifinal on Friday. The Highlanders kept it much closer against the undefeated Titans.

McLean used last season’s district final defeat as fuel to reach its first state championship game in 29 years this spring. Jameson believes Saturday’s loss can serve the same purpose: inspiring next year’s group.

“We used (the district finals loss) as a fire all season. Every training session we were talking about unfinished business,” Jameson said. ‘Now that I’m here, I’m sure they all feel the pain. So we remember that, save it and come back next year.”