Before the 2012 boys' high school soccer season started, St. Clairsville head coach Gary Watt didn't know what to expect from his squad after losing an eye-popping 13 lettermen to graduation.
Well, after five straight victories to begin the campaign, Watt couldn't stop raving about his squad.
"This group is a good, quality team that never stops, never turns on each other, and plays hard all the time," he said after watching his team blank visiting Oak Glen, 3-0, Thursday night under the lights on the turf at Red Devil Stadium.
"Along the way, we've had a couple of freshmen step up who have been impressive and filled some holes that we didn't have filled," he continued. "The seniors have led great. They've providing good morale and good encouragement to these younger kids.
"I'm telling you, this is a nice team," he added. "And, they're having fun so far."
After a scoreless first half in which the Red Devils and Golden Bears (5-3) exchanged blows, St. Clairsville didn't waste much time in taking control in the second half.
Zach Oliver rifled a shot from the left side of the net that clanked off the far post and trickled away from Oak Glen goalkeeper Nick Fryer. The ball rolled out in front of the net in the middle of the crease where St. Clairsville's Jimmy Cash was streaking to the net. The senior tapped the ball into the back of the cage for what turned out to be the game-winning goal in the 50th minute.
Cash wasn't finished, however. He one-timed a right-footed laser that sailed to the top right corner of the net in the 53rd minute for 2-0 reading.
"He's been doing that for us," Watt said of his senior. "He's not only providing senior leadership, but also goals."
The Red Devils got a 'gift' goal just over a minute later when Taylor Wissman's rocket from 15 yards out ricocheted off an Oak Glen defender and into the cage past a helpless, and stunned, Fryer.
"Hey, it was a good, hard shot by Taylor," Watt said of his team's third goal. "It was on net and the defender tried to kick it out, but it took a bad deflection."
St. Clairsville outshot Oak Glen 39-13, with goalkeeper Izaac Wiley recording seven saves for the shutout.
"I think that first goal kind of took the wind out of their sails," Watt said. "Then, when we made it 2-0, you could really see they were deflated.
"They are a good team," he said of Oak Glen. "They played hard and it's not hard to see why they've won five games so far."
St. Clairsville hosts John Marshall Monday.
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