St. C. Boys Fall to West Holmes
ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Soccer, like most sports, can be a game of inches at times. Such was the case for St. Clairsville Wednesday.
The second-seeded Red Devils saw their season come to a bitter end with a 1-0 loss to visiting West Holmes in a Division II Eastern District boys soccer tournament semifinal match on the artificial pitch inside Red Devil Stadium.
Needing a goal to draw even as time ticked away, St. Clairsville (11-3-3) saw Caden Stout’s blast from 20 yards out strike the cross-bar and carom out of harms way with under 10 seconds remaining. The Red Devils senior hit the same spot in the 74th minute.
“The thing I’m most proud about is that my team never gave up. They battled until the final 10 seconds,” first-year St. Clairsville coach Jeff Roberts said. “We hit the post … had some breakaways but the ball just didn’t bounce our way (Wednesday).”
West Holmes might have had a little bit to do with that.
“They are a very strong team. They came out strong and pushed hard,” Roberts saidd. “Their goalie made some unbelievable saves. A couple of inches here and there could have changed the outcome. It was that close.
“Credit to West Holmes for having to travel an hour and 40 minutes or so. They kept pressing and working the whole game. I thought the momentum tilted a little bit in our favor in the second half. We had some opportunities, but it didn’t fall our way.”
The fourth-seeded Knights (10-7-1) scored the only goal they would need in the 15th minute and then relied on senior goalkeeper A.J. Jones in advancing to the district finals for the second consecutive season. They fell in the regional finals last season with eight seniors. They have 10 seniors this year.
Curtis Wagner popped the ball over top of the Red Devils back line and Camron Arnold put it in the net behind keeper Shane Jackson for what proved to be the game-winner.
The setback marked the second time this season that St. Clairsville has been shut out. They fell to Wheeling Park, 2-0, a few weeks back.
Jackson was credited with just three saves on four shots. Jones, meanwhile, game up big every time the Red Devils got near the net. He finished with a dozen stops — six in each half.
“It’s heartbreaking to see these kids play their last game here,” Roberts said of his senior group who were back-to-back OVAC Class 4A champions.
“This is a life lesson. You’re going to get kicked down. You’re going to have doubters and have people come after you and say you’re not good enough. This is the true test now. Soccer is one thing, but life is another.
This is a life lesson that they will take with them. How they come together as a team even though the season is over, it’s going to be there for them to pick each other up.
“It’s unfortunate for these seniors, but in talking with the underclassmen, we’ll be back. We learned a lot of players. We learned a lot as coaches and I have no doubt we will be a little better prepared next year to make an even deeper run in the postseason.”
New Philadelphia 3
STEUBENVILLE — Caleb Noble and Mike Rook both scored goals, but Steubenville fell to New Philadelphia.
Sophomore goalkeeper J.P. Walsh tallied 14 saves for Big Red.