YORK — The Clover High School boys’ soccer team scored a first-half goal and added a late penalty kick to defeat rival York 2-0 Friday at the YCHS stadium.
Blue Eagle freshman Brandon LaForge booted the ball through the net in the first half for the first score of the game.
Teammate Bailey Bottini, a junior, converted a penalty kick late in the second half as the Blue Eagles held off the Cougars for the Region 3-AAAA win.
“It felt great scoring the first-half goal,” LaForge said. “It was a win that put us in the playoffs. We’ll continue to work hard and look forward to the playoffs.”
First-year CHS coach Graham Stafford lauded the Blue Eagle players for playing well.
“It was another tough win against a good York team,” said Stafford. “York coach Rick Johnson has the program in the right direction. There’s a difference of night and day in the progress the team has made.”
Stafford said the win against York was crucial to the region standings.
“The win assures us of a playoff appearance with two games to go,” he said. “We need a strong finish to give us momentum going into the playoffs.”
YCHS coach Johnson praised the Cougars for extending the Blue Eagles to the limit in two narrow losses. “Our kids battled Clover tonight,” he said.
“We had several scoring opportunities,” Johnson said.
Junior stalwart Buddy Anderson, an offensive force all season, feels good about the state of the program.
“We’ve improved from last year,” said Anderson, who joins the YCHS football team as a placekicker at spring practice later this month. “We are a lot better team that continues to improve fundamentally.”
Johnson likes what he sees evaluating the program at this stage of the season. “I am excited about York soccer,” he said. “All but one of our players return next season.”
The Cougars close out the regular season May 2 at Nation Ford, beginning at 7 p.m. The Blue Eagles conclude regular-season play May 7 at Dorman.