PHS boys soccer to play for title

BECKLEY -Cinderella’s trip to the ball was a short one.

Winfield may have been looking for a storybook ending to its run toward a Class AAA state championship, Parkersburg had other plans.

The Big Reds defeated the Generals 2-1 on a cold and sunny Friday morning to advance to today’s Class AAA boys state championship final against George Washington.

Despite Winfield controlling the attack for much of the first half, the teams went into the half scoreless.

It was the Generals who found the net first when Winfield midfielder Simon Sneeringer broke free and dribbled down the field, before being taken down in a tackle in the box.

That set up a Jesse Rhodes penalty kick, which was converted for a 1-0 lead.

The lead wouldn’t last long, as less than a minute later Sneeringer and a Parkersburg attacker got tangled up, resulting in a Big Red free kick.

Tyler Bro fired a missile from 20 yards out, finding the foot of Evan Rhodes, who slapped it past a sliding General keeper to draw even.

“One of the Winfield kids just took out one of ours,” Rhodes said. “Neither of the refs saw it.”

Rhodes once again provided the heroics later in the game, braving his way through a host of Generals in the 76th minute and scoring for the second time, the decisive goal of the match.

It was a goal he had felt coming in the final quarter of the game.

“After going four shots one-on-one with the keeper, I knew we were going to get another shot and finish it off,” Rhodes said.

That goal punched Parkersburg’s ticket for a return to the state title game. This time it’s hoping for a bit of a different result.

It would be the first state title for the dominating Parkersburg program since 2009.

“It’s a lot of pressure on us, to be honest,” Big Reds defender Brandon DeCicco said.

They’ll hope to do it with the return of head coach Don Fosselman, who had to sit out Friday’s match after acquiring two yellow cards in the sectional round.

He was replaced by his son, Don Fosselman Jr., in the first round of the states.

“Coach did a great job of preparing these guys,” Fosselman Jr. said. “He made my job easy.”

What wasn’t an easy task was facing a Winfield team that played much different than it did when the two teams met previously, a 4-0 Parkersburg victory.

“They’re an entirely different team. We expected that,” Fosselman Jr. said. “This is what you would call a quality state semifinal match. Winfield gave us all we wanted. They very easily could have got the win today. We’re fortunate to move on.”

Today’s state championship match will be played at 10:30 a.m. today at Cline Stadium.