Ohio, W.Va. Boys Play To 2-2 Tie

STEUBENVILLE – Any other day, John-Paul Duff wouldn’t be so enthused walking on the same field as Beaver Local’s DeShawn Parker or Steubenville Central’ Leo Herrman.

“They’re the two that have scored the most goals on me during high school games,” said Duff, Big Red’s goaltender.

But on Sunday, the trio and 16 others, wore the same red jersey to represent Ohio in the 18th annual OVAC Senior All-Star Classic.

“It was great to have those guys on my team this time around,” Duff said.

Herrmann and Parker each scored a goal at Harding Stadium Stadium and, coincidentally, assisted on each other’s score.

“It was great playing with DeShawn,” Herrmann said. “I believe we were both among the top scorers in Ohio this past fall.

“I felt very comfortable playing alongside DeShawn, we work we’ll together and I wish we could play together again.”

The game ended in a 2-2 tie.

Oak Glen’s Cullen Bennett and Brett Watson of Parkersburg South each scored a goal for West Virginia.

“With it being just a recreational game, it’s ok that it was a tie,” Bennett said. “Both teams were really skilled and it was a lot of fun. I’m not going to get to go on to play soccer in college. I’m just glad I could finish out strong.”

Parker, the Ohio offensive MVP, opened the scoring with just 32 seconds left before halftime. Herrmann attempted two shots close to the net before dishing a quick pass to the left, finding Parker, who tapped it in the net.

“When you put the two of us together there will always be chances, but I got to give a lot of credit to our midfield for getting us the ball especially John-Paul McNamara,” Herrmann said.

McNamara was also a soccer player for the Crusaders. The Ohio team’s coach was Steve Kopcha, also from Catholic.

“I’m real proud of my guys,” Kopcha said. “They played a nice game.

“It is weird that the soccer season has been over for a long time for these guys. It’s a good chance for them to experience high school soccer one last time. It’s an enjoyable day for all of them.”

Bennett tied the score at one 46 seconds after halftime. He launched a kick nearly 20 yards out from the far right side.

“I saw that the goalie was pushed up real far,” said Bennett, who is attending college at West Virginia University. “I figured if I hit that back corner I would be able to put it in. I got lucky and it went in.”

Bennett was one of seven seniors who helped lead the Golden Bears to the Class AA-A regional final with a record of 13-8 – one of the best seasons in program history.

Oak Glen’s Chris Bailey and Devin Polen were also selected to the West Virginia team.

“Watching those three for one more time was pretty special,” said Aaron Bennett, Aaron’s father and Bears’ coach who assisted in the all-star game. “You always hope to do something you love for one more time.

“It was a pleasure watching the best and the brightest in the OVAC.

“It was nice, considering I’ve only been head coach for two and a half years. It’s nice to get here already.”

At the 8:47 mark of the second half, Parkersburg South’s Dillon Dowler found West Virginia and Patriot teammate Brett Matson, who scored for a 2-1 advantage.

“You regret a goal like that,” Duff said. “But it happens. You just hit yourself in the face for it and bounce back.

“You can’t let that lie in your conscience. You put it behind you and learn from it.”

Duff, who will play at Cuyahoga County Community College next year, made six saves the rest of the way – finishing with 11. He earned Ohio Defensive Player MVP.

Less than five minutes after Matson’s goal, Herrmann, a Franciscan University recruit, tied it and capped the scoring.

At the final buzzer, Russell Ratcliffe of Indian Creek attempted a shot that rolled just two feet left of the goal.