Pennybacker Lifts Wheeling Park Patriots Over Morgantown
Park Senior Nets Two Goals To Beat Morgantown
WHEELING — The Wheeling Park boys’ soccer team is on a roll.
The Patriots have won five straight since a season-opening loss at Hurricane. During that stretch, they have beaten regional foes Buckhannon-Upshur and University, and Saturday at Wheeling Island Stadium, added Morgantown to that list.
Jason Pennybacker scored twice in the second half as Wheeling Park (5-1) shut out its regional and OVAC rival, 2-0.
“We came out a little bit slow and were just getting outworked a little bit,” Wheeling Park coach Mario Julian said. “Morgantown is a tough opponent. We had some possession and corner kicks on them, but we didn’t really have good scoring chances.
“Second half, we calmed some things down and started to take over and put a nice attack on them. Jay had a big game in the second half. He is just a handful out there when he gets going. I think Morgantown is young and getting better, and that was a good test for us.”
Scoring in big moments this season is becoming a theme for Pennybacker.
Julian has total faith in his senior out there patrolling the forward position. That faith was rewarded again.
Pennybacker’s first goal came after he mishandled a pass. But after one of his teammates and a Morgantown defender collided going for the ball, it came back to Pennybacker, who was all alone at the 25-yard line.
He lofted the ball high and over the head of Morgantown goalie Benjamin Meyer to break the scoreless tie in the 50th minute.
Shortly after, Morgantown (5-3) went to the bench and replaced Meyer with Carter Cave.
Cave was rudely welcomed to the game by Pennybacker.
A cross into the middle was flicked on by Wheeling Park’s Louis Aulick to Pennybacker, who buried it past Cave, scoring both goals in less than three minutes.
“We depend on him a lot,” Julian said of Pennybacker. “He scores in big games. He scored against Huntington, he scored against Buckhannon. He is scoring against good teams and that is what you have to do to win a lot of games.
“This team that I am coaching this year, there is a lot of seniors and they all want to win. We have may have taken things for granted a bit because it is hard work to win no matter who you are playing. Once we got our heads in the right place, we can do some damage when we are playing the right way.
“I like where we are at. We have a couple more tough league games left and we will see how we do. Seeding in the OVAC is important to us. It is always nice to get the bye if you can get the 1 or 2 seed and that is what we are shooting for.”
Those two goals were more than enough for a Park defense that suffocated the Mohigans.
Morgantown had one quality shot early in the second half as Ahmad Mikkly was able to get a clean look on goal, but Park goalie Zach Calvert was able to make a diving save to keep the game scoreless. It was one of two saves Calvert made on a relatively easy day.
“We played a really good side, Wheeling Park is good,” Morgantown coach Samuel Snyder said. “We got injured, lost a little bit of momentum and they pressed us the whole time. We needed to be a little more smarter, little more composed. Other than that, we fought with them. I was proud of the guys.
“We had a hard time with their press. We weren’t able to keep possession. In order to break a press like that, you have to be able to connect three quick passes to switch field and we weren’t able to connect three passes.”