WHEELING — Not being able to play for a conference championship due to circumstances beyond a team’s control can drive it to higher goals. Such is the case for the Wheeling Park girls’ soccer team which was denied participation in the recent Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Class 5A Tournament because of Ohio County’s COVID-19 color-coded status the week of the event.
However, instead of hanging their heads, the Patriots are hoping for a little deja vu.
“I think it was a stinger to be in gold that particular week. It was unfortunate that we missed that opportunity,” Wheeling Park coach Carrie Hanna said after watching her team defeat St. Clairsville in a 3-2 victory Tuesday night on the artificial pitch inside Wheeling Island Stadium. The final score was not indicative of the way the Patriots (9-2) controlled the contest. “I always look at the silver lining. Two years ago when we went down to (the) state (tournament) we didn’t even qualify for the OVACs, so we always look at these type of things as a blessing in disguise. We had a good week of practice that week, but we also had a week of sting. Hopefully we come back with avengence.”
So far. So good.
Freshman Merritt Delk got Wheeling Park on the scoreboard in the sixth minute. She split a pair of defenders with a nifty move and dribbled the ball down low to St. Clairsville goalkeeper Jaeda Nowak’s right. Delk then unleashed a laser that found the far corner of the net for a 1-0 margin. Emma Shelek charted an assist.
It became 2-0 in the 24th minute. Gracelynn Hanna’s perfect cross from the left corner to the crease found the foot of Maya Taggart, but Nowak denied that attempt.
However, Delk was in the right spot at the right time to bang home the rebound. Taggart logged the assist.
Delk completed her natural hat trick as time was winding down in the first half. Taking a pass from Lily Hanna, Delk blasted the ball into the net as the lead ballooned to 3-0.
“We told her we’re happy she is on the hat trick train again. It seems like when we score a lot of goals she always has a hat trick,” Hanna said. “She may only be a freshman on the roster, but she plays like a senior on the field.”
The score remained that way until late in the second half, mainly due to the aggressive play of the Patriots’ midfielders.
Starting goalkeeper Josephine Kulpa wasn’t called upon to make a save as she was in between the pipes for the first 40 minutes. Backup netminder Ryleigh Hicks didn’t face a shot until the 67th minute. She stopped three of five fired at her.
Emily Thompson gave the Red Devils (10-3-1) some much-needed momentum. She completed a Megan Malin feed in the 73rd minute to avoid the shutout.
Thompson was pulled down moments later, resulting in a penalty kick. Mikayla Hendershot sent a bullet along the turf into the bottom righthand corner of the net to make it 3-2 in the 74th minute, but that was as close as the visitors would get.
Despite the loss, Nowak established a school-record with 19 saves. She already holds the school mark for career shutouts.
The West Virginia Class AAA sectional tournament is scheduled for the end of the month and Hanna will see how her team stacks up against a couple of teams in her region in the near future.
“We’ve got a pair of big games coming up against University (home on Thursday) and at Morgantown (next Tuesday),” Hanna said.
For St. Clairsville head coach Wes Stoner, he said his team has nothing to hang its head about in losing to Wheeling Park.
“That is a good Wheeling Park team. They kept possession of the ball and we couldn’t get it away from them for most of the night,” he said. “This will be a good loss for us to learn from. I’m confident in my girls of bouncing back.”
Weir 4, Steub. Catholic 0
WEIRTON — Bella Aperfine tallied two goals for Weir to go along with an assist as it defeated Steubenville Catholic. Ava Taylor and Olivia Baker also collected a goal for the Red Riders.
Brooke 6, Beaver Local 0
WELLSBURG — Eddie Marks scored three goals while Liam Cronin dished out three assists as Brooke downed Beaver Local. Cronin, Ben Ferguson and Telmo Randazzo also had goals for the Bruins (11-1-1) while Hunter Adams had two assists. Goalkeeper Andrew Coursin had 10 saves.
Edison 5, Monroe Central 1
RICHMOND — Chris Wilson charted two goals as Edison upended Monroe Central.
Isaac Knowlton recorded his 62nd goal of the season for the Seminoles. His 62 goals ties the Ohio State Record for goals in a season.
Magnolia d. River 25-9, 25-15, 25-4
HANNIBAL — Mady Winters turned in 15 kills, 14 points, seven aces, four blocks and four digs as Magnolia swept River.
Victoria Hood amassed 13 kills, 10 points, six aces and five digs, while Jaci Rohde accumulated seven points and six kills for the Blue Eagles (11-3).
Wheeling Park d. Brooke 25-18, 25-20, 25-21
WELLSBURG — Rachel Simon tallied 13 kills, five blocks and 10 digs to help Wheeling Park win its 13th straight game sweeping Brooke. Anya Ritz tallied 28 assists and four digs for the Patriots (14-2).
Union Local d. Bellaire 25-8, 25-10, 25-10
BELLAIRE — Casey Kildow accounted for 14 assists, eight digs, five aces and four kills as Union Local upended Bellaire.
The Big Reds were led by Allie Ault’s three kills.
Shadyside d. Buckeye Local 25-18, 25-16, 25-16
CONNORVILLE — The invading Tigers posted a sweep of the Panthers.
Sophomore dandy Gentry Brown had 14 kills, four aces and three digs.
Monroe Central d. Frontier 24-26, 25-15, 25-17, 25-14
WOODSFIELD — Kynzi Bishop charted 17 points, five aces and five kills as Monroe Central downed Frontier.
Haylin Hiles smashed a team-high 14 kills, followed by Abby Thompson’s 10 in the win.
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