Brooke Boys Secure Class 5A Championship
WELLSBURG — The Brooke boys soccer team is back on top of the mountain.
Telmo Randazzo tallied two goals in the second half to lead Brooke to the summit, as the top-seeded Bruins defeated No. 2 seed Big Red, 2-0, Saturday afternoon for the OVAC Class 5A championship.
“Great, great, it feels great,” Brooke (9-1-1) coach Joe Pep said. “I told these guys all week we are going to have to work hard all week. I told them we are going have to work and work. We wanted to get to the second season, and this is it. Now, we have to regroup for states.”
The victory gave the Bruins their third OVAC tournament title. Brooke captured its first conference tournament title since 2006 when John Zumpetta guided the Bruins to the champions. Brooke also won a title in 2004 under the leadership of Eric Fries.
“It means a lot for the program,” Pepe said. ” When coach Dan (Shorts) and I took over the program seven years ago, we were in rebuilding mode. It was a tough rebuild. It took time for the kids to buy in. People are set in their ways. You are dealing with young adults. We knew it was going to take time, and it did take time. We told them we had to do things this way. When these seniors came in as freshmen, we worked and worked with them for four years. They bought into program. We needed this. We are proud of them. This brings a lot to the program. Take nothing away from Steubenville Big Red. They were ready. They played their hearts out. They are well schooled. They know what to do. We had to fight through everything. We had to execute. The kids are on Cloud 9. I told them there would be a lot of time to celebrate.”
Tyler McMahon collected assists on both of Randazzo’s goals.
“We knew they were a good team,” Big Red (4-3-3) head coach Greg Bowers said. “We gave ourselves a fighting chance until the 17th minute mark when they were able to get one in. We give all the credit to J.P. (Walsh) and our defense for keeping us in the game. J.P. is a sophomore, and this is the best game we have seen him play. He can’t hang his head. He gave up two goals on two quality shots against a quality team.”
Walsh made 10 saves for Big Red. Andrew Coursin made two for Brooke.
“We played better in the first half,” Bowers said. “In the second half, their midfielders controlled possession, and they kept putting pressure on us.”
The match was scoreless for more than 63 minutes before Randazzo headed the ball into the back of the net, giving the Bruins a 1-0 lead with 16:04 remaining to be played.
Randazzo recorded his second goal a little less than 11 minutes when he ripped a shot into the net with 5:37 still showing on the clock.
“The first half was even, but I thought we controlled the second half,” Pepe said. “We just could not find the back of the net until late in the second half. We kept the pressure on. Our guys are schooled to keep pushing, and that is what we do.”
Brooke outshot Big Red, 16-6. The Bruins fired 12 shots on goal, while Big Red had two.
“Coach Bowers had his team ready,” Pepe said. “Steubenville Big Red was ready. He did his homework. I guess I did my homework, too. There is a lot of mutual respect between the programs.”
Steubenville Catholic 7 Caldwell 1
WELLSBURG — Michael Lee tallied a hat trick and an assist to lead the way for Steubenville Catholic as it defeated Caldwell. David Kissinger collected two goals, Anthony Venditti contributed a goal and an assist and Michael Duff finished with a goal. Joseph Rhode delivered an assist for the Crusaders.
St. Clairsville 3
Beaver Local 2
WELLSBURG — Behind two goals from Nate Thornburg, including the game winner with less than seven minutes to play, the Red Devils pocketed their second consecutive OVAC Championship and fourth in school history by virtue of a 3-2 victory against Beaver Local.
The Red Devils (8-0-2) certainly had to earn the right to hoist the trophy as Beaver Local (7-3-1) shot out to a 2-0 lead in the opening 10 minutes of the game thanks to a pair of goals from senior Chase Flati.
Caden Stout also found the back of the net for the Red Devils to tie the game at 2-2.