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Delk Breaks Single Season Goals Record

Park Sophomore Breaks Record With Hat Trick

Photo by Cody Nespor Wheeling Park sophomore Merritt Delk (10) scored her 34th, 35th and 36th goals of the season Thursday to set a new single-season program record.

WHEELING — With 33 second left in the first half, Wheeling Park sophomore Merritt Delk collected her own rebound a few feet in front of the net and sent a one-time shot past Weir’s goalkeeper to score her third goal of the game and her 36th of the season, setting a new program record.

Delk entered Thursday’s contest at Wheeling Island Stadium with 33 goals this season, two behind the single-season record of 35 set by Brianne Basilone in 2001. It took just under 40 minutes of play for Delk to find the back of the net three times and break the record.

“It was crazy,” Delk said after the game. “I knew it was coming up in one of these final games of the regular season. I’m really glad it happened at home. It was a great way to end the regular season at home.”

The Patriots (16-1) defeated Weir 8-0 in their final home game of the regular season Thursday.

Delk scored her first goal 9:21 into the game on a penalty kick and her second at 36:10 on a 50-yard breakaway during which she out-ran two Weir defenders. The record-setting goal came three minutes later just before halftime.

“It was incredibly special,” said Park coach Carrie Hanna. “And she did it with such class, she never forced it, she always played the right pass at times and was really unselfish. For it to come on a hat trick and to come in the first half, that was really special for her.”

In breaking the record at home, Delk was able to do it in front of Park’s home crowd and her parents, David and Betsy Delk.

“I’m very proud of her, she works hard and deserves it,” David said. “She’s always been good (at soccer), always been a goal-scorer.”

Photo by Cody Nespor
Merritt Delk, center, is awarded the record-breaking ball Thursday night by Wheeling Park athletic director Dwaine Rodgers, left, and coach Carrie Hanna.

The Delks started researching the record when they thought Merritt might be getting close. They confirmed what it was with the school and knew that Merritt was on track to break it.

“We knew that it was somewhere in the 30-35 (range) and we actually went on the library’s website and researched it,” David said. “We confirmed that it was Brianne’s record from 2001.”

Following a 6-1 win over Oak Glen on Monday, Delk was just two goals off the record but said she was not nervous about it entering Thursday’s game.

“Last game I was probably more nervous,” she admitted. “This game, I was confident in myself and my teammates. Now I’m just thinking about wanting to win a state championship.”

“I think she was a little nervous in the first half because she missed some easy ones,” David joked. “The one she actually got the record on, she missed it at first and then turned around and hit it. Hopefully she’s over the nerves now.”

Basilone set the record as a senior in 2001. She was a member of four Wheeling Park State and OVAC title teams from 1998-2001. She was a three-time all-state selection and a two-time all-OVAC pick. SHe was also named the 2000 WV Midfielder of the Year.

For Delk to break her record as just a sophomore shows what kind of ability she possesses.

“It’s the total package, technical, tactical, mental, physical,” Hanna said. “I’ve coached the game a long time and there’s a level of competitiveness there that’s just rare and special. That level of competitiveness keeps her driven and keeps her focused. She wants to win, she wants to do her job and her job is to put the ball in the back of the net. She finds a way to do it and she does it with technical ability and tactical awareness and with her teammates.

“She’s just well ahead of her time. She was ready for high school and she’s come in and she’s lighting it on fire.”

Wheeling Park ended up winning Thursday’s contest 8-0 over Weir. Along with Delk’s hat trick, Mia Zecca scored twice and Abby Barki, Maya Taggart and Lily Hanna all scored once. The Patriots will play their regular-season finale Saturday at Grafton and then return home next Monday to host John Marshall in the section semifinal.

“It’s been really special to watch,” Hanna said of her team this season. “In the first half of the season you kind of figure things out, you’re finding out what’s working and what’s not working. Then you make some adjustments and now they are just polishing it to perfection and we look better and better every game.”

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