WELLSBURG - St. Clairsville senior keeper Izaac Wiley did an outstanding job in net Wednesday night against Wheeling Park's powerful boys' soccer team. Unfortunately for Wiley and the Red Devils, he could not be at more than one place at a time.
The Patriots scored a trio of first-half goals, all on rebounded shots, including a pair in the final 40 seconds, as they advanced to the semifinals of the OVAC Cup Soccer Tournament with a 3-0 victory against St. Clairsville at Brooke High School.
Coach Mario Julian's third-seeded Patriots will play second-seeded, and defending champion Morgantown, at 4 p.m. Saturday at Wheeling Island Stadium with the winner moving onto the final. The Mohigans were 2-0 winners over the Patriots in last season's championship game.
The victory was also marked the second consecutive season that Park has eliminated St. Clairsville in the quarterfinals, having beaten the Red Devils by a 4-0 margin last season at Brooke.
Park's first goal came 17 minutes into the game and following a nice save by Wiley. However, Wiley was unable to corral the loose ball, and with the goalie still lying on the ground, the Patriots' Nate Mauck was able to get enough of the ball for it to slowly dribble into net for a 1-0 score.
It looked like the lead was going to grow with six minutes to play in the opening half, but a second Wheeling Park tally was waved off due to an off sides call.
But the Patriots were not finished, and while Wiley made some very nice saves in the final minutes of the first half, he could not be everywhere, a fact the Patriots took total advantage of.
After again making a pair of saves, Landon Irwin's third attempt found its way into the net with 40 seconds showing to double the count and make it a 2-0 lead. Just 30 seconds later Bonar was the beneficiary of finding a rebounded ball in front of him near the goal, and he converted to up the margin to 3-0.
Wheeling Park finished the half with 11 shots on net, all coming after the Red Devils had the initial two tries turned away by Patriots netminder Ryan Seidewitz.
"We work a lot on crashing the net, and we did a good job of it," Julian said. "Actually, we haven't had the opportunity to play on a slippery field like this one this year, and the ball skipping around caused us some problems. But we were on our toes near the net and did a good job in there.
"It seems like we had the ball an awful lot, but again, with the slippery field and the ball moving the way it was it was a little hard to keep focus. But the kids realized that when you get into this tournament the other team is going to give you their best effort, and give St. Clairsville credit, they came to play and did a great job."
Red Devils coach Gary Watt had nothing but praise for Wheeling Park, and his senior netminder.
"Wheeling Park is just so resilient," Watt said. "That second goal really sucked the life out of us for a few seconds and before you knew it they had the third one and it just killed us. They are a very skilled and talented team, but we never gave up and battled the entire game.
"Izaac did a great job in the net. He has been a strength for us all season long and he really came to play.
"We are a young team with some very good senior leadership and I am just so proud of how these kids played and how they never stopped."
Wiley knocked away 12 shots in the contest while Seidewitz held out all five shots he faced in recording the shutout.