WHEELERSBURG — The halftime score of this Division III sectional final strongly resembled another kind of football.
In its 17th win of the season in as many tries, the Wheelersburg Pirates boys soccer team claimed its third consecutive sectional title with a 17-0 victory over visiting Piketon.
The Pirates started off strong, and continued that start into the second half, taking a two-touchdown 14-0 lead over the Redstreaks into the halftime break.
“Fast starts for us will be key moving ahead as it allows us to settle in,” Pirates coach Jon Estep said, following the win. “But we also must look to put more pressure on our opponents and adjust how they play us throughout the game.”
A Braxton Sammons goal, assisted by Aaron Jolly just 28 seconds into Wednesday’s sectional final, set the tone early in the Pirates’ favor.
Jolly scored the next two Pirate goals, one assisted by Sammons and another by Elias Robson — en route to his six-goal performance.
With his third goal at the first half’s 14:32 mark, Jolly surpassed the Pirates’ all-time goals mark with his 110th score of his career — passing 2004 graduate Bryan Craft whose record stood for over a decade-and-a-half.
Jacob Saxby scored two consecutive goals at the 12:34 and 14:20 marks of the first half — the first assisted by Sammons and the second by Jolly to make it 5-0 Pirates before Jolly’s record-breaking score.
Chris Shiepis scored three goals in a six-minute span during the first half, two of which were assisted by Nathan Sylvia and the third by Max Hagans.
Senior Aiden Wright scored via a penalty-kick goal at the 29:47 mark of the first half, giving Wheelersburg a 12-0 lead.
Hagans scored via a Connor Estep assist at the 32:11 mark to make it 13-0, before Lane Jordan’s goal concluded Wheelersburg’s first-half scoring barrage at the 34:13 mark.
Robson and Estep each got into the second-half scoring column, scoring goals at the 16:31 and 37:49 marks, respectively.
Robson was assisted by Estep in his score, while Estep got the assist from Josh Boggs.
With their win, the Pirates will head back to the Division III district tournament — this time playing their semifinal game inside the confines of Ed Miller Stadium.
Playing at the most familiar of locations, Wheelersburg will welcome a familiar opponent in the Valley Indians.
Estep’s club defeated visiting Valley 5-0 back on Sept. 10, and last season prevailed 3-2 at Waverly’s Raidiger Field in their D-III district semifinal matchup — both factors they’re keeping in mind as they hope to advance to their third consecutive district finals.
“Our approach moving along into the tournament will be to continue to stay healthy; know that being that No. 1 seed, everyone is going to give us their best game they can because it is a win-or-go-home mindset,” Estep said. “Our focus has now turned to Valley, and we know that they will make adjustments from our first meeting and will come ready to play. We discussed that our focus and playing one game at a time will be important to keep our season going.”
Valley and Wheelersburg will meet in a Division III district semifinal match at Ed Miller Stadium on Saturday at 11 a.m..
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved