Jamestown's Tripp leads East soccer all-stars to victory

mobrien@vagazette.com

Kevin Tripp hoped to finish his high school soccer career with a win, meaning a second Jamestown High Group 4A boys state title in three seasons. He'll gladly settle for a three-goal performance and Most Valuable Player honors in leading the East to a 4-3 win over the West in the Virginia High School Coaches Association All-Star Game on Wednesday at Christopher Newport University.

"I still have to go with the golden goal in the (state) semifinals against Chancellor my sophomore year and the goal in the final against Hanover," Tripp said of his career highlights. "But this is pretty up there.

"This is a great way to end my high school career. It makes up a little bit for not winning states, but there's always going to be that part of me that wants the opportunity back.

"You've got to live and learn and this feels pretty good."

In an interesting twist, Lafayette's Justin Wilson, who scored the East's other goal, assisted Tripp on two of his goals. The two have battled each other in the intense and evenly contested rivalry between their Williamsburg area schools the past several seasons.

"At first thought, I would never pass to a Jamestown player," Wilson joked. "Kevin Tripp is one of my best friends on and off of the field, and I would pass to him any day.

"He's one of the best finishers I've ever played with."

Their exploits highlighted a big night for the Bay Rivers District, which put four other players on the East roster: York goalkeeper Jacob Reimers, Smithfield defender Charlie Skinner, Jamestown midfielder Tanner Herndon and Bruton midfielder Chuckie Tenbusch. As always, Longwood University-bound Reimers was good in goal, blanking the West in the scoreless first half before sitting out the second half.

The goal parade started with the West's Obduilio Funez of Park View scoring first. Tripp retaliated with a goal off of a Wilson pass with 26 minutes to play to tie the score at 1-1.

"Justin made an awesome run down the sideline and was cutting across goal," Tripp said. "I sort of held my run so he'd have a person to pass to and found a way to get it in the back of the net."

Joe Palazzi of Jefferson Forest gave the West its second lead with a goal three minutes later, but Wilson scored four minutes after that with a rocket from 12 yards to tie the game again. Then Tripp struck again with 12:13 to go to put the East ahead for good.

"Will Nopper (of First Colonial) played me an awesome ball on the second one and I was able to take it down and put it away," Tripp said. "Justin played me the last ball and I was able to turn two or three guys and put it away."

That last one gave the East a 4-2 cushion it needed because West MVP Palazzi would add a late goal. While impressive, the three goals were not the most ever for Tripp.

He scored five in the 7-0 win over Deep Creek in the 4A East Region quarterfinals and had 26 this season — to go with 10 assists — en route to 4A All-State recognition.

"It helps that I'm fast, but one of my biggest assets is reading the game," said Tripp, who will try out for the team next month at Washington & Lee University in Lexington. "I see where my teammates are and envision what's going to happen before it does."

That five-goal game gave the Eagles a chance to play for a state semifinal berth, but they lost to Midlothian in penalty kicks despite a terrific volley for a goal by Tripp. The all-star game win and hat-trick provided some consolation for Tripp as he added to the Jamestown boys soccer legacy he'd already done so much to enhance.

"It feels great especially since we had to come from behind twice and to win," Tripp said. "This game was a bit of nostalgia.

"It hadn't hit me yet that high school is over, but I guess it is."

EAST 4, WEST 3

Halftime – 0-0. Goals – East, Tripp 3, Wilson; West, Palazzi 2, Funez. Assists – East, Wilson 2, Nopper.

O'Brien can be reached by phone at 757-247-4963.

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