WHEELING - Morgantown's Zach Kilwein doesn't take many shots. That's by design.
When he does, he normally makes it count.
Such was the case with 11:22 remaining in a tied game with Wheeling Park in the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference soccer tournament at Wheeling Island Stadium.
Photo by Dave Morrison
Kilwein found himself with the ball, inside 10 yards, with a severe angle to the goal. Park goalkeeper Ryan Seidewitz was caught momentarily with a decision. Whether to challenge the ball or to stay back in net.
He challenged and Kilwein launched what seemed to be a prayer at the net, given the angle.
His prayer was answered, and with it, Morgantown (10-1-1) avenged its lone loss and, more importantly, a chance to defend its OVAC soccer crown with a 2-1 victory against WheelingPark (10-2-2).
"He's a distributor, he doesn't take many (shots), but when he does, it is usually a good one," Morgantown coach Joe Melia said. "I was at an angle but I thought he had a good chance, and it was a big one."
It was a tough loss for Park, which had battled mightily to get back in the game in the second half after trailing 1-0 at the break.
"Anytime you lose, especially in a game as big as this was, it's tough," Wheeling Park coach Mario Julian said. "It was a good kick. To lose on a good kick makes it a little easier than if it hadn't been, but it's still tough."
Julian said Seidewitz was put in a bad position, but did not fault the keeper for making the play he did.
"In that position you are a little bit in no-man's land," Julian said. "You have to decide whether to challenge the ball or stay in the net. The keeper didn't lose this game for us. He played well. We had opportunities and we just didn't capitalize on them."
It was, as expected, a physical match, with three yellow cards and a red card, in the second half.
Morgantown lost scorer Lee Slaven early, when he collided with Seidewitz as he attacked the goal, somersaulted before hitting the ground, and suffered a knee injury. Melia believes he may be lost for the season, but seeing the junior being helped from the field motivated the Mohigans, he said.
"After seeing him go down like that, I think they may have gotten a little inspired," Melia said. "They wanted to beat Park in the first place, but it turned into a deal where they also wanted to beat Park for him. Who knows, that might have been his last game of the season?"
Morgantown wasted little time capitalizing, when Addison Luck's hard shot inside the box bounded off Seidewitz and Ross Coffers was able to put it back into the goal with 12:28 remaining in the first half.
At times, it seemed that Morgantown was playing with an extra man in the first half.
"They are areally good team and they came out with a little bit of an edge since we beat them before (2-1)," Julian said. "I thought we did a good job of adjusting at the half and we played much better."
The physical game took a turn in Park's favor early in the second half, as it was continuously on the attack. It paid off when Nate Mauck turned a penalty kick into the equalizer at the 27:22.
That set the stage for Kilwein to avoid a potential overtime situation with his clutch kick from the corner.
"I just didn't want to see the game go to overtime on a penalty kick, which I don't like," Melia said. "This reminds me of last year. The same scenario. It's a big win for us. We know how good a team Park is. They are going to play you tough, physical, and we had to match that. I thought we did."
As he was exiting the stadium, Julian spotted a group of Morgantown players walking off as well, and offered them congratulations on a well-played match.
"We hope to see you guys again in the regionals," he said. "That would be something, wouldn't it?"