WHEELING - Wheeling Park showed why it is one of the favorites to capture the West Virginia Class AAA boys' soccer championship with a 6-0 thumping of Morgantown on Tuesday in a Region One Sectional semifinal at Wheeling Island Stadium.
The Patriots scored five goals in 11 minutes early in the first half and cruised the rest of the way.
''We used our speed. They played flatback and we got a lot of balls to the corners, got some corner kicks and some goals early and just didn't let off in the first half,'' Wheeling Park coach Mario Julian said. ''I don't think we possessed the ball as well as we would have liked to, but with them, the opportunity was to attack the wings and the corners and it was wide open.''
Park’s Josh Garrett, left, battles Morgantown’s Sam Stack for the ball Tuesday night.
Photo by Josh Strope
As talented as Wheeling Park (17-0-3) is passing the ball, it is arguably the most dangerous on set pieces.
Tuesday's game was a perfect example as the Patriots scored their first two goals on corner kicks.
Senior defender Eric Davis executed two perfect corner kicks, the first finding the head of Kyle George as the senior knocked it past Morgantown goalkeeper Reed Andrews in the 9th minute.
Less than 2 minutes later, Davis' second corner kick found Errin Baynes, who's shot hit off the crossbar and deflected off Andrews and into the net.
''It's a huge focus of ours,'' Julian said of set pieces. ''We want those because we feel that is a good opportunity for us to score. We can use Errin (a two-time state high jump champ) as a decoy now because the other guys are scoring now.
''We used to just always go to Errin 100 percent of the time. He would get two goals a game and now they are keying on him. I think the second time teams see him, they try to take him away so we moved him to the near post a couple times. We should have had a couple more goals.''
George scored the next two goals, one coming off a rebound of an Alex Bauer shot and the other on a pass from Josh Garrett to complete the hat trick.
Woody Pond scored in the 18th minute on a rebound from another Bauer shot that Andrews again couldn't hang onto.
Bauer finally got some glory in the second half, getting one past Andrews in the 60th minute to complete the Wheeling Park scoring.
Cameron Allen and Brent Bishop combined for five saves in posting a shutout. Andrew stopped 10 shots for the Mohigans.
The Patriots return to Wheeling Island Stadium to face University in the sectional final on Thursday. The teams tied in the regular season, 2-2.
''University, the last time we played them, it was an evenly matched game,'' Julian said. ''We gave up a goal late in the game with an opportunity to win it. We know that they are going to play for 80 minutes, and if need be, beyond.
''We know we are going to need to play our best soccer and I'm glad it's here.''