PDT Sports Contributor
The Wheelersburg Pirates defeated the Clay Panthers 8-3, in a sectional finals matchup played at Ed Miller Stadium in Wheelersburg. The Pirates (16-1-0) will advance to the district round in hopes for a state championship. As a result of the loss, the Panthers’ season comes to an end, finishing up with a 9-6-2 record.
“They’re good,” said Clay Head Soccer Coach, Mark Trapp. “That’s probably one of the best passing teams we’ve seen all year.”
Trapp said his team knew of the skill and talent the Pirates soccer team had, going into the game. “We tried to contain their speed as much as we could,” said Trapp.
Wheelersburg Head Soccer Coach Jon Estep used the win or go home concept of tournament play to prepare his team for their matchup against the Panthers. “No matter who we’re playing, where we’re playing, both teams are fighting for their lives on the field and for their program,” said Estep.
The Pirates jumped out to a quick lead over the Panthers, when Chance Holbrook and Kurt Kaskey each scored a goal within the first seven minutes of the match.
Wheelersburg would get two more goals within two minutes of each other, one coming from Ethan McCain, and another from Holbrook, his second of the match.
The first half would have one more score for the Pirates, when Christian Hughes found the back of the Panthers net with only 12:40 remaining.
After the first half, the Pirates had a commanding lead over the Panthers 5-0.
One of the Clay’s downfalls in the first half was the lack of shots on goal against Wheelersburg. The Panthers had very few moments with the ball in the Pirate side of the field.
Both teams started the second half with a sense of urgency. The Panthers realized their season could quickly come to an end if they didn’t get some goals, while the Pirates fought to not allow Clay an opportunity to put together a comeback.
“The first half was a definite learning experience for us,” said Trapp when commenting on the change in his team’s play in the second half.
Wheelersburg would score three more times in the second half however, with Hughes getting his second goal of the night, followed by goals from Dolton Wood and Ethan Pauley.
According to Trapp, one of his team’s goals for the second half was to not let the Pirates win the half. “We did that, they scored three in the second, and we were able to tie them for the half,” said Trapp.
Clay would get three scores in the second half, coming from Isaiah Chamberlin, Ethan Newton, and Aaron Keyser.
Clay goalkeeper Anthony Williams showed off a lot of heart and determination. Had it not been for some spectacular saves by Williams, the score would have easily been lopsided in favor of the Pirates.
“The one thing I can honestly say is our kids some valuable experience, in tournament experience,” said Trapp. “We hope they (Wheelersburg) represent our district well.”
“I thought our guys did an outstanding job out there this evening,” said Estep about his team’s overall performance.
The Pirates will play next on Saturday, October 24th in Athens, Ohio. Their opponent had will be the winner of the Northwest and South Webster sectional final game.