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Wheeling Park Girls’ Soccer Blanks Oak Glen, 3-0

Photo by Andrew Grimm Oak Glen’s Reece Enochs (3) moves with the ball while being defended by Wheeling Park’s Annalese Aderholt on Thursday.

NEW MANCHESTER — As the sectional tournament approaches, Oak Glen girls’ soccer coach Ryan Wells wants his team to be challenged and adapt to different styles than it has been acustom to.

It received such a challenge on Thursday night, as Class AAA power Wheeling Park handed the Golden Bears a 3-0 defeat.

“We knew coming in Wheeling Park is one the premier teams in the state,” Wells said. “That is why we wanted to play them. I’m proud of our effort. I think we found something for our road to Beckley with teams that are one step better than us.

“We treat every game seriously and try to learn from every game, but teams like Park and Morgantown, Parkersburg South, even Weir, Beaver Local and St. Clairsville, those are the teams we love playing because that is the quality we’re going to see in the tournament. Park showed us the quality soccer we are going to see when we get to sectionals, regionals and Beckley.”

Oak Glen (13-2-2) played a much more defensive style than it usually uses until late in the game, and it worked well enough to keep it at just a 1-0 deficit until just over five minutes to play. Despite giving up two late goals while pressing for a goal, Wells was happy with the way his team implemented the defensive structure it will likely need to use if it goes on another deep run in the tournament.

“We played them defensive-heavy as long as we could and held them one-nil, and then we stretched it out,” he said. “I told the girls we weren’t going to work for a score line, we’re going to work to win. Park runs a nice system, they overload both sides of the field. Their girls make good, two-touch passes. That is quality we want from our girls defensively.

“We play a lot of offensive soccer when we play games. For us to play defensively the way we did, especially the first 25-30 minutes, I’m happy with.”

The Golden Bears had some chances, but there was usually a Wheeling Park (14-1-3) defender close by to thwart the opportunity.

“To play in the formation we were in and get the looks that we got was good,” Wells said. “The first time we ran it was against Parkersburg South and we scored four goals.”

The eight shots that did make it on goal, Patriots keeper Jill Blair turned aside. Likewise, the Golden Bears defense kept pressure on Wheeling Park’s attack.

“It was very much-so important to stay patient and not panic,” Wheeling Park coach Carrie Hanna said. “We have learned that against teams that come out with high pressure. You can’t force things, you just have to find the passes a little bit quicker. They did an excellent job to make sure we didn’t have a lot of time.”

In the other net, Oak Glen keeper Alexa Andrews made 12 saves, including a couple diving stops in the second half, to give her team a chance.

“This was the first time she was really tested,” Wells said of Andrews. “This is first year she’s played soccer. We called on her when our starting keeper from last year went out with a season-ending injury. I’ve been very impressed. We pepper her in practice, and I told her Park would be a big test for her and I couldn’t be more proud of her.”

Despite a lot of offensive pressure from the Patriots, the game remained scoreless until late in the first half when Emma Delk buried a cross for a 1-0 lead with 5:45 to go before the break.

That remained the score until there was 5:02 to play in the game when Abbey Anderson made a perfect shot off the post and in to make it 2-0. Just 21 seconds later, Mia Zecca made it 3-0 and sealed the Wheeling Park victory.

“It was big to score the second goal,” Hanna said. “We were in a dogfight. That one-goal lead, we were a bit nervous. They were having great counters and pressuring. It was a little more of a relief when we got the second and the third.”

CHASING 100

Oak Glen junior Reece Enochs, who already set the Golden Bears’ single-season record for goals scored with 40, entered the game with 99 career goals. With the shutout, she stays at 99, and will look for the century mark next week.

HOPING TO HOST

The regional tournament will be played at Oak Glen this season, meaning that if the Golden Bears advance through sectionals, they will play for a state tournament bid on their home turf. The sectional tournament begins on Oct. 22.

“If we can take care of buisness we will be playing on our home field instead of traveling somewhere else this time,” Wells said.

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