St. Clairsville boys blank John Glenn to advance to D-II district
ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Thirteen was certainly a lucky number for the St. Clairsville boys soccer team as it started postseason play on a picture-perfect Saturday afternoon.
The third-seeded Red Devils won their 13th match of the season with a 2-0 whitewashing of visiting John Glenn (9-8) on the artificial pitch inside Red Devil Stadium in a Division II, Region 7 East 1 co-sectional final.
In addition to achieving a baker’s dozen victories, senior goalkeeper Ethan Banks registered his 13th shutout of the campaign while stopping 13 shots by the seventh-seeded Little Muskies.
“I like No. 28 because that is the number I wear, but 13 was pretty good today,” Banks said. “Our defense played really well in front of me. They stopped a lot of the crosses and a lot of balls that could’ve resulted in 1-on-1s.
“We played really well today,” Banks said. “I’m proud of my teammates.”
Both goalkeepers, Banks and John Glenn’s Owen Gregg, made some acrobatic saves at times in keeping the opposition off of the scoreboard.
St. Clairsville (1 3-2-2) finally broke through in the 25th minute when Anthony Verardi pounded home a loose ball deep in the box. Teammate Caden Wolfe sent the ball towards the net from an impossible angle along the end line to the right of Owen. Verardi was in the right place at the right time for what proved to be the only net-finder the hosts would need.
“The stars are aligning for us. We’ve worked so hard since the preseason. We practice and prepare for the teams we play. We take every minute of every game seriously,” St. Clairsville first-year head coach Mehdi Ayari said. “These guys have committed to putting in the hard work. It paid off in the OVAC Tournament and so far it’s paying off in the this tournament.”
The Red Devils appeared to have taken a 2-0 lead early in the second half when Caden Stout’s in-direct kick from 30 yards out sailed over Gregg’s outstretched hands and just under the cross-bar.
“It was an in-direct free kick. He (the referee) canceled it because the ball went directly in,” Ayari explained of the nullification.
Wolfe gave the Red Devils some breathing room in the 65th minute. He dribbled the ball around a couple of defenders before his shot from the box glanced off of Gregg’s fingers and trickled into the cage.
Gregg finished with 14 saves.
St. Clairsville will now face top-seeded Dover, a 5-0 victor over No. 17 Minerva also on Saturday, in the district semifinals on Wednesday at a site to be determined. Match time is 6 p.m.