Standing on the sideline Saturday as teammate Logan White prepared to take a penalty kick in the Class 5 boys soccer state championship game, Albemarle’s Andrew Weber was visualizing his own shot skipping past the outstretched fingertips of the Deep Run goalkeeper.
White beat the keeper to give Albemarle a 3-0 advantage in the penalty kick shootout, and as Deep Run sent its last hope out to go one-on-one with Patriots’ goalie Thomas Leckrone, Weber imagined his shot nestling into the net.
Weber was next in line on Saturday with a chance to clinch the state finals on a successful penalty kick, and he knew exactly where he was going to go with the shot.
But he didn’t have to. Deep Run failed to answer on its third consecutive attempt, and pandemonium ensued at Glen Allen High School. Players and coaches spilled from the Albemarle sideline to celebrate their second state championship in three years.
“All I could think was ‘Holy cow,’” said Weber, a senior midfielder, who finished the season with 11 goals and more than 15 assists. “This is what we worked for all four years, and I can’t believe I got to share it with this group of guys.”
A three-year varsity starter, three-year team captain and future Virginia Tech Hokie, Weber is the final Schewels Athlete of the Week of the 2017-18 school year.
Weber said the Patriots underperformed on Saturday in a game that was tied, 3-3, after regulation and two overtime periods, but “Crazy things happen in championship games,” he said.
Weber said the Patriots slayed their dragon the day before with a 4-1 win in the semifinals over defending state champion Briar Woods.
“It always comes down to Briar Woods,” Weber said. “We know we always have to go through them, and this year, we played our best game of the season against them.”
Weber was a reserve his freshman year when Briar Woods knocked Albemarle out in the regional quarterfinals. The Patriots returned the favor the next season on the way to the 2016 state title.
Last season, it was Briar Woods’ turn to ride the wave of a regional win over the Patriots to a state championship.
After watching Deep Run go into double overtime in the semifinals against Mills Godwin and beating their postseason rival, Weber said the Patriots’ confidence was at an all-time high heading into Saturday’s title game.
Weber had an inkling about a week earlier that Albemarle (20-0-1) was a team of destiny.
After completing the regular season with one draw and no losses and rolling through the regional tournament, Albemarle found itself in a scoreless game with 12 minutes left against Wakefield in the state quarterfinals.
Things only got worse as a foul in the goalie’s box and an ensuing red card left the Patriots trailing, 1-0, and a man down for the rest of the game. Second-half goals by Brandon Mahon and Mohamed Abajar kept the season alive.
“We literally tried to lose that game,” Weber said. “When we didn’t, I felt like this had to be our year.”
Weber’s starting career as an attacking midfielder began his sophomore year when the team needed him to fill in for the Patriots’ star player Brendan Moyers, whose scoring prowess was needed at the top of the formation.
Weber took on the role of sponge that season, absorbing every move Moyers made.
“His awareness on the field is the best I’ve seen,” Weber said. “He always knows what the defense is doing and where his teammates are.”
The beginning of Weber’s junior season was delayed by a back fracture, which cost him about 10 games. But it was that time off that made him realize how important soccer was to his everyday life and convinced him to give college soccer a shot.
“I used to always think that if I wasn’t playing soccer so much, my grades would be so much better, but they weren’t,” said Weber, who graduated with a 4.7 GPA. “Everything kind of fell out of routine. I wasn’t doing my homework, wasn’t studying for tests. I was so antsy to play that it was all I could think about.”
Enticed by the engineering program at Virginia Tech, Weber was accepted in December and earned an invite from the Hokies’ soccer team to be a preferred walk-on. He’ll rejoin forces with Moyers, who made 16 starts last spring as a freshman and started all 20 games for Virginia Tech this season.
“I was going to be a student there anyway, but you add the soccer piece and it’s a perfect fit,” Weber said. ”ACC soccer is really fast-paced. I think pretty quickly now, but I’m going to have to process things three times as quick.”