SALEM — Benhui Ryang isn’t the Charlottesville boys soccer team’s leading scorer, but he had a good feeling about Saturday’s rain-drenched Class 4 state championship game at Roanoke College.
“He told me before the game he was going to score, and what a moment to step up,” Charlottesville head coach Martin Braun said. “I’m so happy for him.”
Ryang’s words proved prophetic, but even he couldn’t have imagined the magnitude of his goal.
After Charlottesville trailed the entire game, then scored the equalizer with less than two minutes left in regulation and survived two scoreless overtime frames, Ryang found the ball at his feet. He got his right cleat on it and put it away in a 2-1 victory over Chancellor, which clinched the Black Knights’ first state championship since 2004. When Ryang scored, there were less than three minutes left before the game went to penalty kicks.
“In overtime, I was telling myself we’ve been given a second chance and I don’t want to squander it,” Ryang said. “I was confident in taking one, but I didn’t want it to go to PK’s. I was given the opportunity and I was able to take it.”
After both goals in regulation ended with victory slides, Ryang’s resulted in a dog pile as his teammates streamed off the sideline to bury him. It was the second time in as many days that Charlottesville handed a team its first loss of the season.
“To be honest, it was just surreal and I didn’t really know what was going on,” Ryang said. “It’s crazy and it feels so good to win.”
Braun was a player on Charlottesville’s 2004 state championship team. Having been there before, he warned his team what it could expect Saturday and much like Ryang’s, his words proved prophetic.
“I told them you have to come out and really battle in the finals because it’s going to be a tough game no matter what,” he said. “The guys deserve this more than many people probably know. They kept fighting and working hard, and I’m super proud of them.”
Chancellor (22-1) scored less than seven minutes into the game when Mike Krieder got his forehead on a corner kick. He celebrated with a sprint toward the sideline and slid across the wet turf on his knees and his arms extended to either side. The Chargers’ 1-0 lead lasted until the final two minutes of regulation.
With time winding down on their season, the Black Knights (18-1-1) just missed on two late opportunities. The game-tying goal was set up by a shot Chancellor goalie Josh Reid saved but couldn’t corral. Charlottesville’s Joe Von Storch collected the ball and fired it back toward the goal. Reid dove and got a hand on it, but it bounced over him and just beyond his outstretched fingertips to send the game into overtime.
Von Storch sprinted toward his teammates on the sideline and slid across the yellow boundary stripe like he was stealing second base.
“This just showed the heart and resilience we’ve had all season,” Ryang said. “We’ve been down before. Towards the end, I was getting a little nervous, but what a great way to finish it off.”