Boy’s Soccer: Patriots Defense Shines in Victory

WHEELING – Nate Mauck was minutes removed from a game in which he was seemingly everywhere in Wheeling Park’s 2-0 victory against Parkersburg South Tuesday at Wheeling Island Stadium.

Before he exited stage right, though, he had one final thing to say.

“Make sure the JV has water,” he said.

A true leader, the reason he is one of the Patriots’ three captains.

Making sure the JV team is taken care of before heading into the cool Wheeling night.

While he was on the field, he was taking care of Parkersburg South, and, more importantly, his defense.

The senior was everywhere, clearing the ball numerous times when South made a push into Park territory. On more than one occasion he ran down a South player breaking down the field to kick the ball harmlessly out of bounds, staving off a would-be scoring opportunity.

Later in the second half, coach Mario Julian moved the Mauck to defender, and he continued his dominate play.

“It’s a comfort level,” Mauck said. “I feel good playing there because it’s where I started. And it’s a comfort level for the team. We’re all on the same page.”

Indeed, Park is playing well.

The Patriots have now pitched three straight shutouts, and have given up just one goal, in a season-opening 1-1 tie with Parkersburg in starting the season 3-0-1.

On Tuesday, Park pressed the issue early and it paid dividends with a pair of first-half goals.

Zach Vanhorn scored at the 26:06 mark off an assist from Grant Robertson and Zach Marra. At the 9:17 mark Landon Irwin added another off an assist from Marra.

“I felt really good about our play in the first half,” Julian said. “We put the pressure on them. We had seven corner kicks and that generally means you are keeping the ball on their end. In the second half we had a solid defensive effort but I didn’t think we played as well as we did in the first half.”

Park was able to take advantage of a couple of mistakes, South coach Ed Ayers said.

“We had a couple of errors, and we paid for that,” Ayers said. “In my opinion the score should have been 0-0. We couldn’t clear the ball out of the box when we needed to clear it. (Wheeling Park) did a good job, but I think we are a better team than we showed tonight.”

Mauck and his teammates made sure they did no damage, limiting the visiting Patriots to just four shots on goal in the game.

Mauck stood out, and that is by design, Julian said.

“The system we play is a very aggressive pressure defense,” the coach said. “A guy who plays the way Nate plays is going to stand out. He is aggressive, he is in shape, fitness-wise, and he is a guy who can play all 80 minutes in a variety of positions. Not many high school student/athletes can do that. He is unselfish, doesn’t care about anything but team. Guys like that are a pleasure to coach.”

Park visits University Thursday and hosts unfastened Morgantown Saturday at Noon