By KYLE LUTZ
WHEELING - After the clock struck zero, the Linsly bench ran onto the field to congratulate eachother, and it was nothing but smiles for Coach Eric Fries as his Cadets boys' soccer team defeated the Mohigans of Morgantown, 3-2, at the Linsly School on Saturday.
The two teams last met in the 2013 OVAC Championship Cup where Morgantown (3-1) had the upperhand 3-1.
"This was a big OVAC matchup," Fries said. "We looked forward to this game because Morgantown and us faced off in the finals last year in the OVAC Tournament. We knew coming in that they were going to be a good team, and we knew we had a good team, so it was going to be a good matchup. What an even game that was. I give all credit to them for coming down and giving us that kind of matchup. I look forward to games like this. They're a lot of fun."
Linsly (3-0) got going early when Jae Wook Ahn scored the first goal of the game in the fourth minute.
Morgantown tied the game just past the 24-minute mark when Zach Kilwein put the ball in the back of the net off an assist from Ben Vester.
It did not take long for the Cadets to take the lead back. Six minutes later, Manuel Flores kicked a clutch shot on the right side of the field. The ball floated in the top left corner of the goal just high enough where the goal keeper could not save it. The goal proved to be the last one of the half as the Cadets went to the sidelines with a 2-1 halftime lead.
In the early minutes of the second half, the Mohigans had a chance to tie the game. Deep in the Cadets' side of the field, Linsly keeper Andres Martinez went for a save, but fell to the ground. Linsly was able to tighten up its defense and prevented a score as the ball went over the net during an attempt.
"We started sorting stuff out, and they put a lot of pressure on us," Fries said about his team's defense. "They were moving guys up the field, and we had to make some major adjustments. It was hard for us. They put a good forward strike against us. It put us under a lot of pressure, and I am really proud of our defense for holding up and sorting that out. That senior leadership is really helpful when you have that kind of stuff."
It only took about a minute for the Cadets to one-up that crucial defense stop. They went down the field, and senior captain Mason George made it a comfortable lead as he scored a goal off a Cole Holubeck assist to make it 3-1. It certainly was a great way to cap a game, as the senior forward was all over the field making plays.
"Mason is effective for us," Fries said. "Everybody is the same way, but Mason puts that extra effort in. It is his senior year, and he really wants to do well. He knows it is not about individual; he knows it about the team first. He did his job. Mason is just one of those guys that is really going to help us a lot."
Morgantown was able to trim the deficit on a score in the 32nd minute. The lead seemed to be too big as the Mohigans were not able to capitalize and tie the game.
"They were by far the most physical team we've played this season," Morgantown coach Joe Melia said. "They caught caught us off guard, and a couple of our starters got injured. It was just a really tough game all around. We just need to get everybody healthy again, and show that we want to be a state championship team. We got to work harder and be more physical."
Mohigan goal keeper Ross Coffers finished with six saves while Martinez had 11.
"It is a good start to our season," Fries said. "Our season is set up for us to be playing competitive games, and we got a lot of good, competitive teams that we are going to play against. It is going to tough season for us that way to play game in and game out like that. I'm excited."