WEST PORTSMOUTH — The senior-laden Portsmouth West boys soccer program has a knack for Saturday games.
In their most recent non-league contests, Saturday games versus Chesapeake on Sept. 12 and versus Portsmouth on Sept. 19, the Senators’ goal-scoring offense managed to break through.
By outscoring the Panthers and Trojans 13-5 in just seven days time, West earned its first two wins of the season to improve to 2-6 — matching its win total from the 2019 campaign.
Portsmouth West also honored the program’s 10 seniors on Saturday — four of which netted goals to help their team pick up the Senior Night win.
The Senators’ 2020-21 seniors make up over half of this season’s roster, including Ethan Marasek, Jared Opperman, Dylan Essman, Caleb Hazelbaker, Austin Throckmorton, Maverick Stone, Rielly Carr, Tucker Brickey, Micah Dillow and Devon Collignon.
Throckmorton and Hazelbaker both spoke following the game about what it meant to pick up the Senior Night win over the Trojans.
“It was a big win tonight,” Throckmorton said. “I was glad we were able to win on Senior Night because it’s our last time playing together. Most of us have played together since youth league, it’s been a fun, long ride with these guys.”
“Winning on Senior Night was definitely something amazing,” Hazelbaker said. “The last four years we’ve had three coaching changes, and we really haven’t had the odds in our favor, either. We’ve been able to grind through, been able to put things together this year and it’s worked out great for us.”
West senior Tucker Brickey scored the game’s first goal in the fifth minute of the first half, bypassing the Trojans’ goalkeeper thanks to an assist from Maverick Stone, and giving the Senators a 1-0 advantage.
Portsmouth’s defense kept the Senators in check for the next 25 minutes of game play, before Hazelbaker put his team up 2-0 with an unassisted goal in the 30th minute.
Feeling the need to add on to its two-goal advantage in the first half’s final 10 minutes, West managed to do just that.
Marasek scored to put West ahead 3-0 via a penalty kick goal in the 37th minute, capitalizing on a Portsmouth foul inside the goal box.
Twenty-eight seconds later in the 38th minute, Stone scored his first of back-to-back goals — helping double West’s lead from 2-0 to 4-0 in less than a minute to close out the first half.
“I feel like it gave us a lot of confidence coming out of that second half,” Stone said. “Even though it’s Senior Night, we just had to have that fire in us — and that put it in there.”
“We were off to a slow start,” Throckmorton said. “Once we got that first goal, we got that fire in our bellies and we started warming up in the game.”
Stone scored again in the second half — this time via Throckmorton’s lone assist — putting West ahead 5-0 over its visitors.
Portsmouth’s Kayden Lattimore, via a MyShawn Williams assist, scored the Trojans’ lone goal in the 34th minute of the second half to make it 5-1 Senators — in what would be the game’s final score.
Rounding out the month of September, West must travel to Waverly on the 22nd, host Wheelersburg on the 24th, and travel to Greenup County (Ky.) on the 29th.
As the postseason approaches and their careers in a West uniform slowly come to an end, the Senators’ seniors are hoping to use their momentum — just as they did in Saturday’s win — as a strong push into the second half of their final season.
“Winning two games this early is something,” Stone said. “This team, we know each other and we know how to play with each other.”
“It’s a great morale booster,” Hazelbaker said. “We definitely have a lot of worthy opponents coming up that we can play against. I believe that if we come into every game and start out strong, play to our potential, we can definitely have one of the best winning seasons in school history.”