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Park Boys Breeze Past JM in Sectional Semis

McLeod, Wall secure hat tricks in sectional triumph

Photo by Cody Nespor Wheeling Park’s Brody Wall looks to find a hole in the defense during Tuesday’s sectional semifinal match against John Marshall. Wall recorded a hat trick in the victory.

WHEELING — The Wheeling Park Patriots had few issues in their playoff opener on Tuesday, cruising past John Marshall 18-0 in the sectional semifinals at Wheeling Island Stadium.

Twelve different players scored for Wheeling Park (15-3-2), with Tresz McLeod and Brody Wall both registering hat tricks.

The Monarchs played an aggressive offside-trap defense that gave the Patriots fits the first time they met earlier this season. Park coach Mario Julian said his team learned from that earlier meeting and was able to take advantage of it on Tuesday.

“It’s a good defense, some professional teams use it,” Julian said. “They pinch you near the midfield line and try to get your guys to be offsides. They do a really nice job and the first time we played them we were offsides 15 times.”

The downside to the defense was that it left John Marshall vulnerable to Park’s speed. Playing so far up field, JM’s defenders had trouble catching up to Park’s forwards anytime they had a breakaway opportunity.

That was how the first goal of the game came about, when Park senior Alex Canestraro outran a trio of JM defenders and found the back of the net just 59 seconds into the game.

“Wheeling Park has a lot of speed and we try to use that to our advantage,” Julian said. “The further we get into the playoffs, we’re going to definitely need to use that speed.”

The Patriots continued to score often as McLeod had already scored his hat trick at the 5:10 mark in the first half. At 22:02 in the first half, the Patriots led 10-0 and Julian removed his starters.

“Last time we played (JM), we were offsides a lot,” Julian said. “We worked on that and we only had two or three (offsides penalties) all game so we made some progress there.”

Park scored two more times before halftime and six times in the second half to win 18-0.

Aside from McLeod (three) and Wall (three), Matteo Gattesco and Canestraro had Park’s only other multi-goal games with two apiece. Luke Dunaway, Carlos Zavala, Max Seibert, Cody Taggart, Manny Juanez, Lorenzo Donzella, Mike Blanton and Spencer Zoladz all scored once.

Wheeling Park will play either Morgantown or Brooke in the section final at Wheeling Island Stadium Thursday at 6 p.m. Julian, a 20-year coach, said one of the most important things in the playoffs is the players not wanting the season to end.

“They like playing high school soccer and they know that if you lose, you’re done,” Julian said. “It ends just like that. You don’t even really get a chance to say bye, the season’s just over and the next time you see them is at the banquet.”

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