RADFORD — Virginia Tech signee Kyle Stenzel led the way with three goals and an assist as R.E. Lee-Staunton advanced to the final with a convincing 7-1 victory over Giles on Friday morning at Radford University.
Throughout the 80 minutes of action the Leemen dominated possession constantly peppering shots up against Giles goalkeeper Tyler Higginbotham.
“That is our style of play. That’s the way we’ve been playing all season and they showcased that for everybody today,” Robert E. Lee head coach Homes Tehrani said.
Robert E. Lee (23-1) opened the scoring in the game’s 10th minute when Stenzel connected with Marcos Sasid in the Giles’ box. Sasid did the rest sending a kick into the right side of the net past Higginbotham for a 1-0 lead.
The Leemen would double the score 13 minutes later when Stenzel successful cashed in on a penalty kick after the Spartans were called for an infraction in the box on a Staunton corner kick.
“I thought we put a whole lot of pressure on them in the first half and got them tired,” Stenzel said.
Giles (19-2) was able to respond in the 33rd minute when senior Matthew Shelor got behind the Leeman defense and scored on a breakaway to make it 2-1.
“They messed up and I saw an opportunity. Caleb Williams slid a great ball to me, and I was able to slide it in the corner,” Shelor said.
The Spartans were able to keep the deficit at one going into the half, but R.E. Lee added to their lead early in the second half when Quinn Anderson scored after getting to a loose ball off a scrum in front of the Spartans’ net in the 47th minute to make it 3-1.
From there the floodgates opened for the Leemen offense as they scored four more goals, including two from Stenzel despite Higginbotham’s best efforts between the pipes.
“I thought he (Higginbotham) played great, but you can’t get shot on that many times and eventually not see some go in,” Giles head coach Andrew Frazier said.
Friday’s game marked the end of the careers of seven Giles’ seniors who were part of two state runner-up squads over the past two seasons, but Frazier believed what that group did during this year’s run to the semifinals was just as impressive.
“We lost nine seniors off of last year’s team and everybody wrote us off,” Frazier said. “This group of seniors dug deep and made it to the final four out of 52 2A teams. I hope they know what they’ve meant for the program.”
Robert E. Lee’s players and coaches stressed after the after the game they had been looking forward to this return trip to the state semis for a while. The Leeman suffered their only loss of the season in the state semifinals last year to eventual 2A state champion George Mason.
“That was a setback for us last year. We’ve watched that game so many times,” Tehrani said. “We we’re ready for this game.”
Whatever happens in this morning’s 9 a.m. final it will be the last time R.E. Lee Staunton will play under that name. The Staunton School Board earlier this year voted to rename the school Staunton High beginning on July 1.