Red Devils whitewash Huskies

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Despite a change of head coaches prior to the season, St. Clairsville has only stumbled once thus far in boys’ high school soccer action. Thursday night wasn’t the night.

Cade Wolfe netted a natural hat trick and Nate Thornberg added a pair of goals and two assists in his last match of the season as the homestanding Red Devils (7-1) roared to an 8-0 whitewashing of Harrison Central on the artificial pitch inside sun-splashed Red Devil Stadium.

The three-goal performance by Wolfe, who had just two entering the match, staked St. Clairsville to a 3-0 lead early in the 19th minute.

“That was a good hat trick for him,” first-year St. Clairsville head coach Mehdi Ayari said. “The passes were pretty good, too, from the midfielders. They played a good game and did everything that we practice.

“It’s becoming habitual. Winning is a habit,” he stressed.

Wolfe got the scoring started when his shot from the left wing caromed off of the far post and re-directed into the net in the 10th minute. It was the Red Devils third shot of the match and was assisted by Thornberg.

Wolfe’s laser from 15 yards out zipped past Huskies goalkeeper Dylan Waggoner for a 2-0 lead in the 15th minute. It came on the eighth attempt and was helped by a feed from Caden Stout.

The senior midfielder completed his natural hat trick when he headed an outstanding corner kick from Jason Clark past the bewildered Waggoner in the 19th minute.

Sophomore Jack Gasber made it 4-0 when he settled down a bouncing ball to Waggoner’s right. His shot beat the keeper to the far side of the net in the 24th minute. Wolfe notched an assist.

Thornberg absolutely drilled the ball into the back of the net on St. Clairsville’s 14th shot as the margin grew to 5-0 in the 28th minute. Stout picked up his second helper of the match.

Freshman Jesse Brannan banged home a rebound after Waggoner had denied a blast by Andy Schmidt to make it 6-0 in the 74th minute.

Thornberg re-direct a cross from Brannan into the net in the 77th minute and Stout lofted the ball from 35 yards out that sailed over Waggoner’s outstretched arms and just under the crossbar as time expired. Thornberg assisted on the final tally.

“He’s been a great addition. He’s a good player,” Ayari said of Thornberg, who joined the Red Devils after transferring from Union Local. Due to the Ohio High School Athletic Association transfer rule, Thornberg was allowed to play the first half of the season, but must sit out the second half and postseason, as well.

“No player is above the team, however,” Ayari stressed. “So, without the rest of the players delivering the balls in or playing passes to each other, nobody can score goals. I think we can attribute that to a great group of boys we have that who have played well all season. Hopefully, we can keep improving.”

Senior goalkeeper Ethan Banks was only called upon to make a trio of saves as most of the action was in the Harrison Central end of the pitch.

“We still defended with high pressure and got the ball early. I think that’s what helped us a lot,” Ayari noted. “We have some nagging injuries. Some players are hurt. Some are tired, but we continue to get good results. So we’re pretty happy. I can’t complain.”

That wasn’t the case for second-year Harrison Central head coach Derek Gramlich.

“The first 10 minutes of the match we were in it. It was 50-50. We had a couple of chances. They had a couple of chances,” he assessed. “Then it was one defensive mistake after another and it was 5-0 at the half. I started putting my second string guys in in the second half and we held them and we held them, but then the last 10 minutes … they (St. Clairsville) are good and they scored three goals at the end.

“It kind of stings because I thought we were going to hold them for the second half with our second string, but it is what it is,” he added. “A bunch of defensive mistakes hurt us tonight.”

St. Clairsville entered the game ranked No. 1 in the OVAC Class 4A standings.

Both teams are idle until Tuesday.