WHEELING-The city of Parkersburg could have two teams playing in the Class AAA state soccer tournament next week at Beckley.
That's because both the Parkersburg High School boys and Parkersburg South girls play in today's Region 1 title games at Wheeling Island Stadium. PHS will meet Morgantown at 5 p.m. with South taking on the Mohigan girls in the nightcap.
Photo by Jeff Baughan
Parkersburg's Tyler Parsons heads the ball away from George Washington's Mark Dundervill during a game earlier in the season. Additional photos of this event can be found at CU.newsandsentinel.com
Parkersburg High School's boys soccer team is three wins away from winning the seventh state championship in the history of the program.
The first of those three wins can be secured today when the No. 4 Big Reds meet No. 2 Morgantown at 5 p.m. at Wheeling Island Stadium for the Region 1 championship and a berth in the state tournament at Beckley.
The Big Reds of coach Don Fosselman bring a 17-2-2 mark into the contest while Morgantown carries an almost identical 17-3-2 record.
Ironically, although these are the two of the state's top soccer programs, they did not meet during the regular season when Morgantown captured the championship of the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference with a 2-1 victory over Wheeling Park. The same Wheeling Park that PHS blasted 4-0 in last week's sectional championship match.
"We're pretty much mirror images of each other,'' Fosselman said of the Big Reds and Morgantown. "We've scored 101 goals and let up 22. They've scored in the mid 80s. They have a lot of skill and they pass the ball well. They have the ability to score goals.''
So does PHS. Tommy Logston, who scored the first two goals against Wheeling Park, has 21 goals and 16 assists. Tyler Bro has scored 14 goals and assisted 12 others. Evan Rhodes has 17 goals and a like number of assists. Matt Powney has scored 19 times and assisted nine goals. It's simply impossible to concentrate on any one member of the Big Reds.
Defensively, PHS is led by goalie Reid Strobl.
"He's the best goalie in the state,'' Fosselman said. "We've had three penalty kicks against us and he has stopped two.''
Winning is nothing new to PHS. Since the school started soccer in 1988, the Big Reds have won nine regional titles, six state championships and 11 Mountain State Athletic Conference titles. Plus, Fosselman, the only coach in the history of the program, has more than 400 victories on his resume.
"I have a lot of confidence in this team,'' said Fosselman. Given the history of this program, he has every reason to be optimistic.
Second-ranked Morgantown (15-1-4) is known for its defensive prowess, but that doesn't faze seventh-ranked Parkersburg South (13-6-2) one bit.
Tonight at Wheeling Island, the two teams will meet for the third time this season in a Class AAA, Region I championship. Early in the schedule, the Mohigans defeated the Patriots 2-1 then three weeks later they blanked South 2-0 in an Ohio Valley Athletic Conference quarterfinal.
Morgantown has allowed just eight goals all season for a 0.40 goals against average.
"They play very sound defense," South coach Ron Bucholtz said. "They are one of the best defending teams in the state. They are very disciplined, and it's hard to break through on offense when they are defending that soundly.
South advanced to the Elite Eight by defeating Parkersburg 1-0 then rallying from a two-goal deficit against Brooke and won 3-2. Morgantown's road in the postseason started with an 8-0 defeat of John Marshall followed by a 2-1 win against University. Since going 0-4-1 during one stretch of the year, South has rebounded with a 10-2-1 record.
"We did this last year, too," Bucholtz said. "We started off about .500 for the first half of the season and gave up a lot of goals. Then we shored up the defense. We gave up very few goals but couldn't find the offense.
"During that two week stretch earlier in the year, we knew we had a good team. We just had to make a few adjustments and shore up some things defensively. As the season has gone, we have made those corrections and now we are playing our best soccer."
Tonight's winner advances to the state semifinals at the YMCA Youth Sports Complex in Beckley on Friday, Nov. 8. Game time would be 5 p.m. at Cline Field.
"We have 11 seniors and our whole team is close - it's like my second family," South co-captain Emily Brezler said. "I can't imagine the season ending (today). I just want our season to end with a win."