Park Soccer Season Begins in Tie

WHEELING – Given their play for the first 40 minutes, most members of the Wheeling Park boys’ soccer team were happy to get out of their season opener against Parkersburg with a 1-1 tie.

All except Zach Marra.

“I’m not happy with it,” he said. “That’s OK. We’ll see them again. We’ll play them in the sectionals, and we’ll win the next time. I’m not happy with it but it’s there.”

Because of Marra, the Patriots (0-0-1) were able to escape with a tie in the first place. His goal off a perfectly placed assist from Eric Bonar, tied the game with 12:55 remaining. That’s the way it ended in a battle of highly touted Class AAA programs.

“That was the most perfect ball of all time,” Marra said of Bonar’s assist. “I just ran by the (defender) and figured I was going to score.”

“I knew he was going to score,” Bonar said. “You get Zach in the open like that and nobody is going to stop him. That was automatic.”

He certainly wasn’t stopped on that occasion.

The one thing that did stop Wheeling Park, at least early on, was nerves.

“We got off to a slow start,” Patriots coach Mario Julian said. “I think the fact that it was our first game had a lot to do with that. We played nervous in the first half. We settled down in the second half and came out and had a solid effort and that was good to see.”

“The first half was not our best, but nerves definitely got to us,” Bonar said. “In the second half I think we showed that we can hang with them. They are a good team. It was good to get back in the game and at least get a draw.”

Parkersburg coach Dan Fosselman, like Marra, wasn’t exactly thrilled with the outcome.

“We were just unlucky there in the second half,” Fosselman said. “It was a hot day and we asked the kids to go all out and they gave us what they had. I was pleased with that. Mario always has a good team. So we can take this and learn from it. It was a good soccer match.”

Parkerburg had several solid first-half scoring opportunities, but Patriots keeper Ryan Seidewitz was solid, with three saves that were called “above average” by Julian. One was a near point-blank Parkerburg shot midway through the first half.

The one goal Parkersburg did have came on a penalty kick by Tommy Loxton at the 31:24 mark of the first half, from 10 yards out.

“That’s a tough shot to stop, first because you have to guess right (on which end of the goal the opponent is going to try score),

Seidewitz said.

“I guessed right but I just wasn’t able to get to the ball. It was a good shot.”

Everything else Seidewitz got to, and he finished with six saves.

“It was a tremendous effort by both keepers,” Julian said. “Each of them had three or four quality saves. The one they got by Ryan, there aren’t any keepers in the state who are going to stop that.”

Parkersburg had seven shots on goal, four corner kicks and two direct kicks in the contest, while Wheeling Park finished with nine shots on goal, eight corner kicks and two direct kicks.

“It’s always a tough opener, and I can tell you this, Parkersburg has beat me a lot more than Wheeling Park has beaten Parkersburg,” Julian said. “I think when the we get to the midway part of the season we can look back on this one and say these are two pretty good soccer teams.”