St. C. boys blanked in OVAC?Cup

WELLSBURG – For the second consecutive season, St. Clairsville has been eliminated from the OVAC Cup boys’ soccer tournament by Wheeling Park.

And, for the second straight time, the Red Devils failed to score a goal against the Patriots.

Wednesday evening on the natural grass surface at Brooke High School, third-seeded Wheeling Park blanked No. 6 St. Clairsville, 4-0, in quarterfinal play under the lights.

“I’m not disappointed at all,” St. Clairsville head coach Gary Watt allowed. “We battled with them. We challenged them. I’m proud because Wheeling Park is a very skilled team.”

The game was scoreless, although the battle-tested Patriots had dominated throughout, until the 17th minutes when Nate Mauck slipped a loose ball into the net. Stanley Czahoroski pelted Red Devils’ goalkeeper Izaac Wiley with a drive from close range on the left wing, but the senior batted it away with a diving two-handed swat.

However, the ball wasn’t cleared from the box and Mauck was in the right place at the right time. He also scored the first two goals last year. Zachary Marra logged the assist as his rebound was denied seconds before Mauck punched the ball behind the defense for a 1-0 edge.

While the Patriots controlled much of the first 40 minutes, the contest remained 1-0 until the waning moments.

After Wiley made back-to-back acrobatic saves, Wheeling Park’s Landon Irwin made it 2-0 with 48 ticks showing on the clock. Eric Bonar was credited with the assist.

Then, following a Wheeling Park throw-in to Wiley’s right, Bonar tickled the twine with a mere 10 seconds remaining for a 3-0 count. Grant Robertson assisted.

“They are relentless,” Watt said of the Patriots. “That second goal, and I could see it, really sucked the life out of my team for just a few seconds, and then they scored again before we could re-group.

“That third goal was a killer,” he added.

The second half was an example of the Patriots playing keep away from the Red Devils, while at the same time running the clock.

“I’m really proud of my guys because they never gave up and battled until the final whistle,” Watt continued. “They never stopped giving their all.”

Wiley was peppered with 11 shots in the first half and 14 for the game. He charted 11 assists.

“Izaac has been a real strength for us all season,” Watt noted. “He has kept us in a lot of games and tonight was no different. He played well despite what the scoreboard said.”

Wheeling Park’s Ryan Seidewitz was hardly tested.

St. Clairsville’s best scoring opportunity came early in the first half when junior Zach Oliver beat a defender down the right wing. His shot was inside the box was corralled by Seidewitz with two hands.

“Give St. Clairsville credit,” Wheeling Park head coach Mario Julian said. “They battled us.”

Wheeling Park will meet top-seeded Morgantown in semifinal action Saturday at 3 p.m. at Wheeling Island Stadium. Those two met in last year’s Cup finals, with the Mohigans prevailing, 2-0.