Patriots Edge Riders
WHEELING–Wheeling Park coach Mario Julian put the gameplan in place and his team followed it to perfection.
The Patriots attacked the wings and it led to the only goal of the night, which proved to be a game-winner in 1-0 defensive battle with Weir on Senior Night at Wheeling Island Stadium.
“We had a gameplan going in,” Julian said. “We knew their singlebacks are really good. They are as good as anybody in the state. In order to score against them, we thought we had to attack down the wings. We had a couple of opportunities but the one we score on was beautiful. You can’t draw it up any better than that.”
Wheeling Park (6-7-5) was streaking down the sidelines throughout the first half but was just missing the perfect cross pass in front of the net. That was until the 27th minute when Andrew Glass executed the gameplan as he sprinted down the wing and sent a cross pass to Vincent Bauer, who rifled a shot into the net to give Park a 1-0 lead.
“We know it’s going to be a battle when we play Mario and Park,” Weir coach Jim Luevano said. “You have to be smart on the field and this game came down to one team making a mistake and it was us. We didn’t pick up our mark on the guy running the far post and it cost us.
“It was a good, tight, and nicely played game. There was a lot of good passing and it was a good game to get each team ready for sectionals and regional play.”
After Bauer handed the lead to the Patriots, it was up to the defense to keep the Red Riders off the scoreboard and it stepped up to the challenge.
“In a lot of games this year, we gave up the lead late,” Julian said. “We knew we had to adjust a few things on our spacing.
“We made sure our midfielders and defenders had proper gaps, so if they did play something big, we would be there and I thought we did a nice job. All of their shots were from outside.”
The Patriots produced seven shots in the match, while Weir generated four.
“Wheeling Park has a very solid defense,” Luevano said. “It is very hard to get a ball through those guys.
“Our defense is our strong game, also, so I knew it would come down to which team made a mistake.”
Zach Calvert gathered a pair of saves for Park, while Brett Hinchee hauled in four saves for the Riders.
“I am really happy with Hinchee,” Luevano said. “He made a fantastic save (Thursday) and he has kept us in some really tight games this year.”
The win comes at a perfect time for the Patriots, who are hoping to finish the season strong and take a winning streak into the postseason.
“We had a couple of corner kicks that we didn’t finish on but Weir is a good team. We have been struggling to score some goals and it is nice to get a win against a good opponent.
“Now, we will see if we could put back-to-back wins together and get ready for the playoffs and build some momentum going in.”