WHEELERSBURG – Fight.
That’s the exact word Wheelersburg head coach Jon Estep used to describe his team’s 3-1 winning effort over new SOC II foe South Webster Tuesday night on their home field.
“The fight, the heart,” Estep said following the win. “We knew coming into it that we had both lost some talent from last year. But we knew they would be ready for this game. The big thing for us was a quick start because we haven’t got off to one all year. For us to jump out and get that early lead, that was big for us from a confidence stand point.”
Despite the Pirates inability to get off to a quick start in the preseason through the first week of the regular season, that was far from the case Tuesday night against the Jeeps. Junior Aaron Jolly found the back of the net for the Pirates first score at the 30:39 mark of the first half.
Jolly’s first goal would remain the lone score of the first half for either side as Wheelersburg took a 1-0 lead into the locker room.
In the second half, South Webster got the scoring started quickly when Gabe Ruth beat the Pirates defense and found the back of the net at the 37:31 mark.
With things even at 1-1, the Pirates wouldn’t let the score remain that way for long. Wheelersburg’s Jacob Saxby led the Pirates charge to retake the lead by scoring at the 34:50 mark of the second half, just under three minutes after Ruth’s game tying goal. For Estep, that kind of fight and resiliency is exactly what he hoped to see when facing an adverse situation.
“It shows that we’re not going to let it deter us, not going to let it bother us,” Estep said. “We’ve been that resilient team through our tough preseason schedule, and tonight we were able to find that again tonight. We’re pretty confident in the guys that we have up front that we’ll be able to do that most nights.”
After his early goal in the game which gave Wheelersburg a 1-0 lead over South Webster, Jolly scored his second goal of the night (25:04 in the second half) and the Pirates’ second goal in less that ten minutes. Jolly’s second would hold as the final goal scored for either side in Tuesday’s contest resulting in a 3-1 Wheelersburg win.
“We’ve got some leaders front to back,” Estep said. “Having a talented guy like Aaron [Jolly] up front, one of the most talented kids in the area, is huge. Eric’s [Green] (Wheelersburg’s junior goalie) worked his tail off to get in better shape and be a really athletic keeper. Besides that breakdown defensively in the early second half, we were extremely happy with the way our defense as a whole played.”
Wheelersburg’s win over South Webster improves their record to 3-0 (2-0 in SOC II) while South Webster falls to 1-1 (1-1 in SOC II).
For Estep and Co., now that they’ve defeated likely one of their top competitors for the SOC II crown at home, the focus shifts to being able to go on the road and win games in conference.
“We’ve got to go on the road,” Estep said. “Have Waverly Thursday on the road. Saw them early in the preseason, know they have some talented kids. We like where we are with our depth and ability to switch guys in and out that we feel comfortable with. But getting off to this hot start in the season and defending our home turf against South Webster, that’s huge.”
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved