MINFORD — Tuesday’s meeting between the Wheelersburg and Minford boys soccer teams produced a first since 2018 result — a tie.
After 80 minutes and eight goals (four apiece), the Pirates (4-0-1) and Falcons (4-1-1) played to a draw. The last such decision between the SOC II rivals came in a 1-1 tie on Aug. 30, 2018 in a 1-1 tie at Ed Miller Stadium.
A fast Minford start got the Falcons on the scoreboard first.
Falcons sophomore Myles Montgomery put one in the back of the net at the 4:22 mark of the first half, just before senior teammate Adam Crank scored from a free kick near the penalty box at the 5:04 mark.
Minford held onto their lead for just over five minutes before the Pirates stormed back. Freshman Nick Sylvia scored at the 8:03 mark of the first half to get ‘Burg on the scoreboard, prior to senior Nolan Wright tying the game at 2-2 at 10:56.
Four goals in the first 11 minutes made it clear that with this set up, we were in store for an interesting finish, one way or another.
“Thought we came out a lot stronger than we did last Tuesday, I was really proud of our effort,” Minford coach Jacob Hackworth said, on his team’s start. “That’s a tough game between two really good teams, league game — that’s what it’s supposed to be like. Super proud of my kids — I think we let one go, but still have a lot of soccer left.”
With less than seven minutes until halftime, Montgomery recovered a rebound of his own shot and stuck it in the back of the Pirate net — giving Minford a 3-2 lead they’d carry into the break.
“Myles has been off to a sluggish start by his standards, but him and Adam scored two early,” Hackworth said. “I thought we kind of eased up off the gas, but credit to them (Wheelersburg) thought they fought hard. If we can get a fast start again, clean up some mistakes I think we’ll be alright going forward.”
“You could tell we were fatigued, the hardest thing about the layoff we had was not having game reps,” Wheelersburg coach Jon Estep said, of his team’s fatigue. “You can only simulate so much in practice. I don’t know if it was physical fatigue, but game fatigue and being able to be crisp with some of our passes.”
When play resumed in the second half, Wheelersburg and Minford again traded goals rather quickly.
Pirates junior Max Hagans evened the score at 3-3 at the 12:47 mark of the second half, before Minford’s Gavin Downey pushed in the go-ahead goal just 18 seconds later.
Despite it being their first live game action in 12 days and fatigue being a factor, Wheelersburg found a goal scorer in sophomore Brody Wilburn.
Wilburn was the recipient of a cross at the 33:11 mark of the second half and scored the equalizer, evening the score at 4-4 with just under seven minutes to play.
“The last goal, we’ve had some success with our crosses. Everyone rushed the front middle and the ball kind of sailed over everybody, fortunately Brody (Wilburn) was in the right spot on the backside and made a heck of a hit on the ball,” Estep said. “It was big for us to come out of here with a tie — very tight match that was back and forth all the way through.”
With the decision, Wheelersburg completes the first half of their SOC II schedule in first place — with four victories and the tie against Minford. The Pirates travel to South Webster on Tuesday to begin their second round of league games.
Wheelersburg will host Fairland on Saturday in a non-league match at 2 p.m.
“Got to find some depth. We like to rotate guys in, need to find guys who can play 10 minutes a to give some of our guys a rest. Do so some work defensively. We feel like we have the offensive firepower to score with anybody, just need to sure up some things defensively. It’s going to be a dogfight in the league. So many teams within a game, game-and-a-half. Go to South Webster to start round two on Tuesday then have everyone coming to us.”
Minford now stands at 4-1-1 and in second place in the SOC II standings, a full game behind the Pirates entering the second half of their league schedule.
The Falcons host Rock Hill on Thursday at 6 p.m., before traveling to New Boston on Saturday at 6 p.m.
“Against Webster it was a long day, started slow and wasn’t how we liked to play,” Hackworth said. “Was happy to see how we played today with a lot faster start and better effort.”
M — Myles Montgomery, 4:22
M — Adam Crank, 5:04
W — Nick Sylvia, 8:03
W — Nolan Wright, 10:56
M — Myles Montgomery, 33:49
W — Max Hagans, 12:47
M — Gavin Downey, 13:05
W — Brody Wilburn, 33:11
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 370-0713 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved