Samuel Felix, Steven Stroup and Zach Barbus have been playing soccer together for so long, they display the type of cohesion that’s evident away from the soccer field.
Ask one a question and there’s a good chance someone else may finish the sentence.
Put that type of teamwork and chemistry on the same pitch, and it’s no wonder why the Bedford High School boys soccer team recently concluded its most successful season.
“We’ve all be playing together probably since we’ve been eight-years-old,” Barbus said. “We’re seniors, so it’s been a pretty long time.”
Felix, Stroup and Barbus helped senior-laden Bedford reach the PIAA Class AA semifinals before a 3-1 loss to Lancaster Mennonite ended the Bisons’ season with a 21-2 record.
Had Bedford defeated Lancaster Mennonite, the Bisons would have played for a state championship on Saturday. Either way, the three senior standouts planned on playing in Sunday’s second Santa Fund Soccer Classic, which was held at Greater Johnstown’s Trojan Stadium.
“Oh yeah, we would have been here,” Stroup said. “It’s for a good cause and it’s great chance to represent your school.”
The cause is The Tribune-Democrat Santa Fund, which distributes toys to children in need. The event is held for the area’s top senior high school soccer players.
Felix, Stroup and Barbus certainly rank on that list as they led the South Boys to a 3-2 shootout victory over the North Boys.
Felix scored opening goal after he made a run past the North defense down the right side of the field. He got the ball to Alex Myers of Rockwood, who bounced the ball back to Felix. His one-timer put the South ahead, 1-0.
In the second half, Felix set up Barbus, who gave the South a
2-1 lead, on the same type of play that carried Bedford to a Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference championship.
“We’re hoping to be remembered for (the things we accomplished),” said Stroup, whose play at forward was key to the South attack. Stroup earned Player of the Match honors.
The North got goals from Michael Pyo of Bishop Carroll and Dominic Ramirez of Westmont-Hilltop, who tied the match 2-2 with a brilliant strike into the upper 90 late in the second half. The North managed to keep things close thanks, in part to the standout play of goalkeeper Dominic Williams.
A senior from Cambria County Christian School, Williams finally got a chance to play against the area’s best talent, and he made three strong saves to keep the North within a goal.
“It was great. It was a great chance to play against higher quality players and to come out and represent my school,” said Williams, a Vinco native who did not play soccer until 10th grade. “I said before the game that if people don’t know about Cambria County Christian School, hopefully they will after the game.”
Because of his late start in the sport, Williams played goalkeeper.
“I had no idea how to punt the ball,” he said.
So, he developed a winding, one-handed heave that works as well as a punt. It became so popular during the match that spectators asked for it.
“Yeah, I heard them,” he said. “There was one point where I was going to roll the ball to someone, but I heard them asking me to throw it, so I did.”
Williams was in net for the North during the shootout. Felix, Stroup and Barbus all scored for the South during the shootout, as did Windber’s Jake Hanley and Somerset’s Ian Hicks. Barbus’ penalty kick was the game-winner.
Ismail Ahmad, Bobby Colvin and Curtis Colvin of Richland scored for the North during the shootout, as did Cambria County Christian’s Tyler Gary.