Pirates blank Pointers for district title


JACKSON — Simply put, Max Hagans had another goal, and a another assist, Breyden Byrd posted another shutout, and the Wheelersburg Pirates only added to their Southeast District boys soccer championship trophy case.

That’s because the top-seeded Pirates, playing still without standout senior Connor Estep, pitched a 3-0 blanking of the South Point Pointers on Saturday at Jackson’s Alumni Stadium —to capture their 11th all-time Southeast District championship.

It was Wheelersburg’s fourth district title in a row, as the Pirates raised their Jolly Roger record to a stellar 18-1-1.

The Pirates’ only blemish is a 5-0 regular-season finale shutout at Minford, but for that match, Estep and two defenders didn’t play because of injuries —and sophomore Nick Sylvia exited early with an injury of his own.

Estep is out for the season with a torn ACL, as the only tie was a 2-2 draw at Northwest — in which the Mohawks scored bang-bang, and back-to-back, second-half goals.

Perhaps fourth-seeded South Point, which finished at 12-4-1, posed a serious threat to the Pirates on Saturday— but they scored only six minutes and 23 seconds into the match to squash that early threat.

The standout Sylvia scored and Hagans had the assist, as Brody Wilburn soon made it a 2-0 lead —tallying an unassisted first-half marker with 18 minutes remaining.

Finally, with only six minutes and 17 seconds to play, Hagans hit a penalty-kick goal —as the Pirates’ program leader in career goals scored made it officially 130 for his decorated four-year tally.

Hagans, on Monday in addition, was named as the Southeast District Division III Boys Soccer Player of the Year —bestowed upon by the Southeast District Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association.

His coach, Wheelersburg’s Jon Estep, was named as the Division III Coach of the Year,

On the defensive side, Byrd against the Pointers made four saves.

That followed his nine-save performance against Valley in the district semifinals —in which Wheelersburg shut out the Indians 3-0 in that match as well.

Before the COVID-impacted season of 2020, in which Wheelersburg won its only regional championship in program history, the Pirates’ previous district titles came in 1988, 1994, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2010 and 2013.

The Pirates now play, on Wednesday night, a Southern Ohio Conference Division II opponent for the third time —the South Webster Jeeps of veteran head coach Corey Claxon in the Division III Region 11 semifinals.

First touch is set for 7 p.m. at Athens High School’s Joe Burrow Stadium.

The Pirates swept the Jeeps in the regular season —rallying in the second half for a 2-1 win at South Webster on August 24, then pitching a 6-0 shutout at Ed Miller Stadium in Wheelersburg.

The winner will assure Scioto County of at least a regional runner-up —and perhaps a regional champion on Saturday at Logan.

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